MILAN (Reuters) - An Italian court on Tuesday banned unlicensed car-sharing services such as those offered by Uber, in another setback for the fast-growing U.S. car service whose smartphone app summons rides at the touch of a button.
Uber has been gaining popularity among passengers seeking lower cost car rides, triggering protests across Europe by heavily regulated traditional taxi drivers.
The court in Italy’s business capital Milan said the Uber POP service, which links private drivers with passengers through an easy-to-use smartphone app, created “unfair competition”.
The ruling, triggered by a petition from taxi associations, said using Uber POP was forbidden, as was the offering of paid car-ride services by unlicensed drivers in any other way.
Uber was not immediately available for comment.
The Italian move adds to a series of legal challenges facing the San Francisco-based company, a start-up which has rapidly grown into a business worth an estimated $40 billion.
Uber was given 15 weeks to comply with the ruling or face a fine of 20,000 euros for each day’s delay in meeting the court ruling.
Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro and Ilaria Polleschi; Writing by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Mark Potter