Frankfurt court bans Uber taxi services across Germany
By Eric Auchard
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A German regional court has issued a temporary injunction against Uber, the fast-growing, U.S.-based online chauffeur service which is no stranger to legal challenges from taxi-cab rivals and regulators around the globe.
In its ruling, the Frankfurt Regional Court said the company could no longer offer its phone apps to connect drivers with passengers, stating that Uber's network of drivers lacked the necessary commercial licenses to pick up passengers.
Uber responded in a statement that it planned to appeal the court decision and in the meantime would continue operating across Germany, a country where its customer base has grown fivefold so far this year.
The court's decision raises the stakes for Uber in Germany. The company has had to fend off legal challenges for months in Berlin and Hamburg on issues ranging from licensing to whether its drivers are fully insured to carry passengers.
But San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, has faced regulatory scrutiny and court injunctions from its early days, even as it has expanded rapidly into roughly 150 cities around the world. German law allows drivers to pick up passengers without a commercial license if they charge no more than the operating cost of the trip. As the middleman connecting drivers and passengers Uber stands to take a cut of any charges and the court issued an injunction against the service.
The company offers two main services, Uber, its classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service and Uberpop, a newer ride-sharing service, which connects private drivers to passengers - an established practice in Germany that nonetheless operates in a legal grey area of rules governing commercial transportation.
"You cannot put the brakes on progress. Uber will continue its operations and will offer Uberpop ridesharing services via its app throughout Germany," Michel Doermer, an Uber spokesman in Frankfurt, said in a statement.
Legal experts said the ruling would apply nationwide unless it succeeds in overturning the injunction or limiting its scope. Continued...