Uber No Longer Banned In Germany

A nationwide injunction issued against on-demand ride-hailing service Uber in Germany has been lifted by a local court in Frankfurt during an appeal hearing.

The ban was issued by the same court late last month, after a civil action brought by the German taxi industry. The taxi industry had argued that Uber lacked a transport permit to operate its UberPop service in Germany, which uses independent drivers to run a commercial service.

According to Reuters the judge at the appeal court hearing ruled that there were no grounds for an immediate injunction against Uber’s service, although Frankfurt Regional Court Judge Frowin Kurth said there could still be grounds for an injunction — just not an immediate one.

He also apparently identified Uber as a direct competitor to the taxi industry, rejecting Uber’s own attempts to cast itself as mere marketplace connecting private drivers with passengers needing a ride.

Uber’s response to the earlier ban had been aggressive business as usual — it vowed to flout the injunction and carry on driving, and even touted a price cut for its service in two German cities.

In a statement posted online today, Uber welcomed the lifting of the ban, and said it also “strongly” welcomed a suggestion by the German Minister for the economy, Sigmar Gabriel, and other political decision-makers “to enter into open dialogue on uberPOP”, adding: “We are at their disposal.”

Uber’s post also references an opinion paper written by German law professor Rupert Scholz — which describes Uber as an “electronic drive-share platform”, not a transportation company. Evidently Uber intends to keep pushing this line of argument, regardless of Judge Kurth’s view.

Uber added that it is confident the German courts will “eventually acknowledge that Uber is a legitimate, innovative transportation solution in Germany”. But of course it would say that. Its confidence may stem from the massive investment coffers backing the company — which has a $17bn valuation and a swathe of big name backers, including Google and Goldman Sachs.

So Uber certainly has the funding to fight lengthy legal battles to see off challenges from traditional transportation providers.

The Germany Taxi Association told the BBC it plans to appeal the lifting of the ban against Uber, commenting in a statement: “The taxi industry accepts competitors who comply with the law. Uber does not.”