Uber Ride-Sharing Verboten in Berlin as Local Taxis Win Ruling
Uber Technologies Inc. has been banned by a Berlin court from providing taxi services via its smartphone software, in a sign the rebellion by local chauffeurs to the U.S. company’s business model in Europe is growing.
The San Francisco-based company said in a statement that the Berlin claimant had so far chosen not to enforce the injunction and that it would continue providing its services until further notice. Uber has faced opposition in France and Belgium as it expands outside the U.S. into Europe and Asia.
Uber hurt competition by violating rules that force limousine drivers to return to their base after delivering customers, the Berlin Taxi Association said in a statement on its website. The Berlin district court confirmed that it had issued an interim injunction valid for the state of Berlin following the request of a single taxi driver.
“Whereas Parisian taxi drivers have demolished the odd Uber limousine for reasons of competition, this brave Berlin taxi entrepreneur has chosen to use the legal means he is entitled to,” the association said.
The taxi group cited investments by Google Inc. (GOOG) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as a sign that Uber, valued at about $3.5 billion, is acting deliberately in violating local rules.
“The only thing these companies care for is maintaining the old, blocking the new, preventing more people from having more choice, failing consumers and their own drivers,” Uber said.
A court in Brussels decided to block Uber from operating there by taxi companies trying to defend their territory.
French President Francois Hollande attempted to impose a 15-minute pickup delay on Uber and other private car services, which was struck down in February by the constitutional court. Parisian taxi drivers blocked traffic from airports that month to protest about private car services, which don’t have to purchase a taxi permit at a cost of more than 200,000 euros ($276,000).
Uber lets users hail cars using an app on their smartphones, which has put it into conflict with traditional taxi services which say its drivers don’t have to follow the same rules. It has a high-end service for limousines and luxury cars as well as lower-priced options for cars driven by ordinary people. Uber is available in almost 100 cities, according to its website.