Uber can start operating its UberPop ride-sharing service in Germany again now that Frankfurt Regional Court Judge Frowin Kurth has ruled that the German Taxi Association (Taxi Deutschland) waited too long to file for an emergency injunction against Uber, the BBC reports.
“Uber is innovating within the framework of the law and is in constructive dialogue with policymakers about how ride-sharing best works within the German context. We know by the demand we see for Uber services that Germany recognises the benefits of new and innovative services,” said Fabien Nestmann, spokesperson for Uber Germany, in a blog post.
Taxi Deutschland civil lawsuit against Uber is still on
Taxi Deutschland has said that it will appeal the decision, but even if it doesn’t manage to get the emergency injunction back in place that doesn’t mean Uber is in the clear. Judge Kurth really just decided that Uber can continue operating while Taxi Deutschland’s lawsuit against Uber goes forward; the ruling doesn’t have any bearing one way or the other on the civil lawsuit itself.
Uber has also been banned from operating in Seoul, and the company can expect more legal challenges as taxi associations push back against what they describe as unfair competition from the tech startup.
Sharing economy benefits from avoiding traditional regulation
Uber is popular with customers because it provides better service and lower prices than many of the taxi associations that have been used to decades of minimal competition, but it has also worked hard to not be labeled a taxi company so that it can avoid all the taxes and regulations that go along with the designation. Uber argues that the smartphone app it uses to charge fares (in addition to connecting passengers to drivers) is different from taximeters because it isn’t connected to the car, taking advantage of laws written long before anyone could imagine smartphone apps.
Much like Airbnb and other companies that make up the so-called sharing economy, Uber benefits from avoiding regulation that applies to its traditional competitors. For example, Uber bills its low cost service UberPop as a ridesharing service, which means that the drivers are neither professionals nor Uber employees. If a traditional taxi service in New York tried to save money by sending out freelancers without professional licenses, the experiment wouldn’t last terribly long.