Court strikes down Uber car service in Germany

Uber had already been banned in Berlin, but the Tuesday's court ruling means the car service could be shut out nationwide.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

A German federal court has placed a temporary injunction on Uber's car service over claims that its drivers don't have the documents required to operate within its borders.

In August, Berlin banned the Uber car-sharing service. Now a court in Frankfurt says Uber lacks the right documents to operate in Germany. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

The Frankfurt Regional Court on Tuesday said that Uber drivers are required to have commercial permits in order to provide the chauffeuring service within its borders, according to Reuters. The court argued that Uber drivers lack the necessary permits and therefore should not be allowed to operate within the country, and and it placed a temporary injunction on Uber, pending an appeal.

In a brief blog post Tuesday, Uber vowed to appeal the court's decision and said that it "will continue operations -- and will continue to offer its services via its app -- throughout Germany."

Uber provides both black car and taxi service to customers all over the world. In Germany, as with other countries, Uber users log into their accounts through an app on their phones and request a ride from an Uber driver. The driver then picks up the Uber rider at the desired location for a set fee.

Uber first brought its car service to Berlin in 2013. The company has since expanded to Hamburg and Frankfurt, and said recently that demand in Germany is so high it would like to deliver its car service to other parts of the country as well.

Uber's hopes for a grand expansion were nearly put on hold last month when Berlin said it would ban the car service out of concern for passenger safety. Uber said at that time that it would challenge the decision.

According to Reuters, in order to operate in Germany, Uber drivers need to have more than the basics, like a driver's license, in order to be part of the service. The company also assures that drivers have local permits and have passed a background check. Germany adds a wrinkle to that by requiring all drivers to have a commercial license. Without one, drivers can only charge for the expense of the trip and no more. Those with a commercial license can legally profit off the ride.

Taxi Deutschland, a consortium of taxi companies in Germany, brought the suit against Uber, arguing that it should not be allowed to operate in the country. The move was hardly surprising, given that Uber poses a real challenge to taxi services.

In its blog post, Uber fired back at Taxi Deutschland, saying that the consortium's lawsuit was a move to "limit people's choice" and that it will "vigorously defend" itself against the claim filed by Taxi Deutschland."