[KARLSRUHE, Germany] Germany's highest court has declined to hear a complaint brought by online taxi service Uber over a ban on its activity in the city of Hamburg, dealing a blow to the company.
The Federal Constitutional Court said the complaint was "not accepted for a decision due to lack of admissibility," a spokesman for the court said on Friday, adding that the court had given no further justification for its position.
Hamburg's transport office sent Uber an injunction in July last year that said its drivers needed special licences to transport passengers. An administrative court in Hamburg subsequently rejected Uber's urgent motion against the ban.
Uber customers order and pay for a taxi with its application on their smartphones. Instead of having taxis prowl city streets looking for customers, Uber allows smartphone users to summon a nearby car to pick them up.
Uber had argued its service did not involve professional drivers but rather private persons who did not require a special licence.
San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc, valued at US$18.2 billion in a fundraising in June, just four years since its 2010 launch, has touched a raw nerve in many countries by threatening to open up an often tightly controlled and licensed market.
Uber, backed by investors including Goldman Sachs and Google, rebuts the criticism and argues it complies with local regulations.