German court denies Uber's request for suspension of nationwide ban

The court also banned an UberPop driver from taking fares

The Frankfurt Regional Court has denied Uber Technologies' request to suspend a nationwide ban in Germany on its ride-sharing UberPop service, a court spokesman said Thursday.

Uber had requested a suspension on the preliminary injunction until the regional court hears the case. The rejection of its request means that the ban on the service will remain in place at least until next Tuesday, when the court has scheduled a hearing in the case, the spokesman said. It is likely that on the same day, the court will issue a ruling on whether the ban will continue to remain in place, he said.

Earlier this month, the court issued an injunction banning Uber from operating UberPop, a service that allows users of the Uber smartphone app to order rides from private drivers using their own cars, often at prices far below those charged by taxis. If Uber violates the preliminary injunction it could be fined up to €250,000 (about US$324,000) or its director could be imprisoned for up to six months.

The injunction was issued after taxi association Taxi Deutschland brought a complaint against UberPop. Uber violates Germany's Passenger Transport Act when it mediates for people who don't have a permit to transport people commercially, the court said in a preliminary ruling.

Uber said it would appeal the injunction, but also decided to defy it, vowing to continue to operate UberPop in Germany despite the ban.

The decision to ban Uber from operating UberPop only affected Uber and not the private drivers.

However, on Monday the court also issued a preliminary injunction against an UberPop driver, banning the driver from accepting fares through the Uber app, the court spokesman said. The driver, who doesn't have the proper papers to transport people, can be fined up to €250,000 if he violates the ban, the spokesman said.

The case against the UberPop driver, which is separate from the case against Uber, was brought by a taxi entrepreneur from Frankfurt who is also a member of Taxi Deutschland.

The court's high sum shows that the German legislator takes the issue very seriously, said Dieter Schlenker, chairman of Taxi Deutschland in a statement on Thursday.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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Loek Essers

IDG News Service
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