German taxi firms puts the brakes on popular app Uber
A regional German court has issued a temporary injunction against Uber, the US-based online chauffeur service, potentially barring the company from operating in cities across Germany.
San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, has faced regulatory battles and court injunctions from its early days but has expanded rapidly into roughly 150 cities around the world.
In its ruling, the Frankfurt Regional Court said the company could no longer offer its Uber and UberPop phone apps to connect drivers with passengers, stating that Uber's network of drivers lacked the necessary commercial licenses to pick up passengers.
German law only allows drivers to pick up passengers without a commercial license if the driver charges no more than the operating cost of the trip. Because Uber stands to take a cut of any charges, the court held it liable and issued an injunction against the service.
Legal experts said the ruling applies nationwide unless Uber appeals and subsequent decisions limit the scope of the ban. An Uber spokesman said the company was working on a response but had no immediate comment.
Founded in 2009 and valued at $18.2bn (€13.9bn) after its latest funding round in June, Uber Technologies contends that it is an electronic marketplace that connects drivers with customers, not a transportation service itself. Drivers must carry a valid driving license, have necessary local permits and undergo background checks before they pick up passengers, it says. The suit was brought by Taxi Deutschland, a Frankfurt-based consortium of taxi companies operating in major cities across Germany.