Lyft should be experiencing some schadenfreude right about now: Uber, the practically ubiquitous ridesharing service that's established drivers in 150 cities, has been banned in Germany in a ruling by the Frankfurt Regional Court.
The court ruled the company's network of drivers didn't have the necessary commercial licenses to pick up passengers under the country's Passenger Transport Act. In an email to TechCrunch, Dr Arne Hasse of the Frankfurt court explained the details of the ruling:
The Uber App violates German unfair competition law. In Germany, commercial passanger [sic] transport is only allowed with a permission by the local authorities which the Uber drivers don't have. The injunction was brought by a taxi drivers' union which also operates a taxi app. A hearing will only take place if Uber applies for it. The injunction is immediately enforceable; Uber can apply for a suspension of the immediately enforceability."
Uber's been fighting a legal battle in Germany for some time. The company has seen challenges in Berlin and Hamburg over driver insurance, last month, won the right to continue operating in Berlin.
Even so, the company has already released a statement saying the temporary ban is simply a slap on the wrist — more a speed bump than a dead end. Despite the court's warning that the company can be fined up to 250,000 euros ($330,000), or have local employees jailed for up to six months, if it violates the temporary injunction, Uber says it will continue its operations and appeal the court decision.
"We believe innovation and competition is good for everyone, riders, and drivers, everyone wins," Frankfurt-based Uber spokesman Michel Doermer said in a statement. "You cannot put the brakes on progress."
Uber's Berlin-based team has also written a blog post on the matter, calling the injunction "wrongly" issued. The blog post, originally written in German, is reposted in its English version below:
Trying to limit people’s choice doesn’t ever seem like a good idea. However, it was the idea behind the recent lawsuit filed by Taxi Deutschland in Frankfurt. We believe innovation and competition is good for everyone – riders and drivers, everyone wins. You can’t put the brakes on progress.
The services offered via Uber’s app have been embraced by German riders and drivers. There is a reason why Germany is one of the fastest growing markets in Europe. It is because German people love smart choices, smart cities and Uber’s first class service.
Uber will carefully review the content of the preliminary decision of the Frankfurt Regional Court, and will appeal this decision and vigorously defend the claim that has been filed by Taxi Deutschland.
Uber will continue its operations – and will continue to offer its services via its app – throughout Germany.
And yes, for a company named after a German word, the irony of the ban hasn't been lost on the Twitterati:
I wouldn't be surprised if Germany banned Uber because it lacks an umlaut. To be honest that bothers me too. Deutschland über alles, etc etc— Geeta Dayal (@geetadayal) September 2, 2014
i hope “Uber” appreciates the irony of being banned in Germany http://t.co/aInFTXyKqt— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) September 2, 2014
The Wire has reached out for further comment and will update if and when we receive a response.