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Uber suffers legal setbacks in France and Germany

A French court has convicted and fined the US company and two of its executives for deceptive commercial practices and illegal business activity, while a court in Germany maintained a ban of the firm's UberPop app.

A Paris criminal court fined Uber 800,000 euros ($907,000) on Thursday over its low-cost UberPop service, which was banned in France under a law passed in 2014.

In addition, two Uber executives - Thibaud Simphal and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, responsible for the company's operations in France and western Europe - were respectively fined 20,000 euros and 30,000 euros.

In the latest legal tangle for the app-based business, the court did not hand down prison terms sought by prosecutors and rejected their request that the two executives be barred from running any company for five years. Also, the fines were much lower than the 100 million euros that traditional taxi services had sought.

French taxi operators accused Uber's low-cost service, UberPop, of unfair competition because it uses non-professional drivers.

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French taxi drivers join nationwide strike

Deceptive commercial practice

Unlike Uber's other car services, UberPop connects users with non-professional drivers who don't face the same regulatory requirements as regular taxi drivers.

As a result, Taxi unions have staged major protests against the service in Paris and other French cities last year. In September, France's highest court upheld an earlier ban on UberPop, which was followed by the arrests of Simphal and Gore-Coty.

The two executives were charged with two different allegations. First, Uber is running illegal taxi operations. And secondly, prosecutors claimed Uber France was concealing digital documents.

Europe cracks down on UberPop

UberPop has become the most controversial part of the San Francisco-based company's services in Europe. In July 2015, Uber pulled the plug on the low-cost app in France, and has since been operating with professional car drivers.

Apart from France, UberPop is currently banned in Belgium and the Netherlands. Many more EU countries are also trying to legally end the service, including Germany, where a court already ruled in March 2015 that the app was illegal

On Thursday, an appeals court in Frankfurt upheld the ban. Uber said it would again appeal against the rulings in France and Germany at higher courts.

uhe/cjc (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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