German court lifts countrywide ban on UberPop

But mediating between passengers and unlicensed drivers is still illegal, the court ruled

The Frankfurt Regional Court has lifted a nationwide preliminary ban on Uber Technologies' ride-sharing service UberPop, ruling that there is no urgent need for an emergency ban.

Earlier this month, the same court had preliminary banned Uber from operating UberPop in Germany because it found the service violated Germany's Passenger Transport Act. Uber, however, vowed to defy the ban.

UberPop 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. Uber violated German law by mediating between passengers and UberPop drivers who don't have a permit to transport people commercially, the court said at the time.

In lifting the preliminary ban, the court still found that it is illegal for Uber to mediate fares for drivers who don't own a license.

The court had issued the preliminary ban after taxi association Taxi Deutschland brought a complaint against UberPop. However, this complaint was only filed in August while Uber entered the German market months before, the court noted, according to a spokesman. In order to justify an emergency ban, the association would have had to file a complaint earlier, he said.

This means that Uber can continue to operate its illegal UberPop service in Germany at least until an appeal is decided, which can take three to four months, he said.

Taxi Deutschland will appeal the case, it said on its website. Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the same court last week also issued a preliminary injunction against a single UberPop driver, banning him from accepting fares through the Uber app. That ban is still in place and the driver can be fined up to €250,000 if he violates the ban, the spokesman said.

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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