Mobile taxi service Uber has been banned across Germany following a court ruling in Frankfurt.
The temporary injunction was issued after the German taxi industry pointed out that the San Francisco-headquartered firm, which has a valuation of $17 billion (£10.25 billion), did not possess the official taxi permits that are required to operate under Germany's Passenger Transport Act.
The court accuses Uber of presenting the regulated industries with a form of unfair competition.
A Spiegel Online article notes the Frankfurt injunction carries a penalty fine of €250,000/$330,000 per violation, and the threat of jail time against Uber’s directors.
However, the injunction is only enforceable until the start of any hearing that appeals the temporary ban, so it is unlikely to last long.
The app was banned in Berlin last month on passenger safety grounds, only to be suspended days later while the court in question ruled on the legality of the move. Uber was also temporarily banned in Hamburg.
Dieter Schlenker, chairman of taxi companies’ co-operative Taxi Deutschland, told the FT: “The Passenger Transport Act regulates the protection of drivers and consumers. That can’t easily be overturned no matter how neoliberal the company."
"Uber operates with billions in cash from Goldman Sachs and Google, wraps itself in a Startup-Look and sells itself as a New Economy saviour,” he said.
Uber, founded in 2009, describes itself as a “pick-up” service that connects passengers with vetted private drivers. The company’s app, which has been backed by the aforementioned Google, Goldman Sachs and others, permits customers to order taxis through their smartphone, see who their driver will be, and track the arrival of their car. It is often significantly cheaper and faster than rival companies.