Uber is no longer banned in Germany (for now) after court lifts temporary injunction

A Frankfurt district court has lifted a Germany-wide ban on the ride-sharing app Uber, which was imposed by the Frankfurt regional court a few weeks ago.

The ban was a temporary injunction that followed complaints by the German cab drivers’ association, Taxi Deutschland, that Uber was breaking German laws around taxi licensing and insurance. The Frankfurt district court said the case wasn’t urgent enough to require the injunction, so it lifted it – it did not however say that Uber’s business model, which involves sidestepping the costly regulations that regular taxi services need to abide by, was legal.

In a statement, Taxi Deutschland said it didn’t understand the decision and would immediately move to appeal it. Adding to earlier rhetoric (“locust shareconomy” remains a personal favorite), the association claimed Uber’s pure capitalist “wage dumping” model was in conflict with Germany’s social market economy. It pointed to protests by Uber drivers in the U.S., over worsening wages and working conditions, as evidence of this model.

Uber, however, welcomed the decision, claiming it was “an important step towards the recognition of Uber as innovative and legitimate.”

“One thing is clear: We have no intention to displace traditional taxi services,” Uber Deutschland spokesman Fabien Nestmann said in a somewhat surprisingly worded statement. “We believe in freedom of choice and we rely on the German consumer. Therefore we are pleased that with this decision to lift the injunction, Uber may continue to offer its better, safer and cheaper deal for all.”

Tuesday’s decision marks the third time Uber has successfully had a temporary injunction lifted in Germany (the other two were city-wide bans in Hamburg and Berlin), though it’s still skating on very thin ice. Last week a sting by traditional taxi drivers saw an Uber driver given a personal injunction on plying his trade, for flouting the wider injunction. He didn’t get fined, but if he had it could have been as much as €250,000 ($323,000). Until Uber gets declared legal or starts playing by the same rules as traditional taxi operations, its future remains uncertain.