Uber vows to defy German ban on its UberPop ride-sharing service

Uber can be fined up to €250,000 if it continues to operate its UberPop service in Germany, a court there has ruled

Uber Technologies must stop operating its ride sharing service UberPop in Germany or pay a fine, a German court has ruled -- but the ban could be short lived, a court spokesman said Tuesday.

The Frankfurt Regional Court granted taxi association Taxi Deutschland a preliminary injunction banning UberPop about a week ago, according to a court document published by German newswire DPA.

If Uber violates the injunction it could be fined up to €250,000 (about US$328,000) or its director could be imprisoned for up to six months.

Uber vowed to defy the ban. "Uber will continue its operations and will offer Uberpop ridesharing services via its app throughout Germany," an Uber spokesman said in an email on Tuesday.

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.

The court ruled that Uber violates Germany's Passenger Transport Act because it mediates for people who don't have a permit to transport people commercially.

Since the verdict, a preliminary injunction against Uber is in place in Germany, the court spokesman said. "At the moment Uber cannot mediate any rides," he added.

However, Uber plans to appeal the case, a company spokesman said Tuesday, meaning that the ban may only last for a couple of days.

As part of its appeal, Uber can ask the court to suspend the preliminary injunction until the appeal is heard, the court spokesman said, adding that a decision whether to suspend the injunction or not usually takes "one or two days" from the moment the request is filed.

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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