22 May 2018 5 min read

Uber are one of the most prolific start-ups of our generation but fame, fortune and innovation are not without controversy. Since its inception in 2008, Uber has grown globally and is one of the most recognizable brands. However, the taxi-app start up are constantly in the news and their exploits provide ample opportunity for budding entrepreneurs and businesses to take note and learn.  

Defence – standing up to red tape

It surely won’t be long before films start showing their stars ordering Uber’s as opposed to hailing a Black Cab. Such has been Uber’s effect on a very well established trade that there have been protests by well-known taxi companies all around the globe contesting the legality of the Uber app. Back in October 2015, Uber was on the receiving end of protests from Black Cab drivers across London claiming the Uber App was unlawful. It was argued that the driver’s app on their phone was being used as a taximeter, which are reserved for use by London Black Cab drivers. Hinging on an examination of the Private Hire Vehicles Act 1998, Uber claimed victory in the courts and continued to throw its weight around London’s transport scene.

Fast-forward to the present day and Uber’s relationship with TFL seems no less repaired as it faced more regulatory challenges. Uber have recently won the right to challenge TFL plans to implement English language requirements on all private-hire drivers. The startup will also be able to challenge TFLs demands that Uber open a 24 hour call centre in the capital. Although the outcome of these challenges is uncertain, what is clear is that Uber are not afraid to throw their weight around and protect their workforce and company. All start-ups will find it incredibly difficult to grow if they are not willing to stand their ground when faced with red tape regulation.

Attack – expand, expand, expand!

On a more global scale, Uber may now have to defend itself in China as Chinese competition authorities have commenced an investigation into Uber’s sale of its Chinese branch to local rivals Didi Chuxing. Whilst only at the investigatory stage, it is prudent to all companies to be mindful of relevant competition law when conducting big deals, as was seen in Ofcom’s close scrutiny of BT over the past year.

The multibillion dollar follows an intense battle in China in which Uber struggled to compete against Didi Chuxing significantly larger market share. Nevertheless the deal is set to give Uber a stake in Didi Chuxing in exchange for buying all of Uber’s Chinese Operations which frees Uber to expand in other jurisdictions like India where another challenge against local Indian operators Ola will likely ensue.

The deal with Didi Chuxing is indicative of Ubers ability to adapt and grow and despite the seemingly non-stop challenges they have faced from competitors and regulators, they have been constantly developing their service and looking at new markets. The introduction of Uber Pool provided a new cost saving way of getting about town and Uber Pitch, a one off ‘on demand elevator pitch’ aimed at connecting budding entrepreneurs with potential investors, highlights Uber’s constant development. Moreover, the latest venture has seen Uber challenge Deliveroo’s hold on the food delivery market with the launch of Uber Eats. Taking commission from signed up restaurants and charging a small delivery fee, this is another string to Uber’s bow that keeps them at the top of constantly evolving companies.

Whether on the defence or the attack, Hybrid is here to help your business through the good times and the bad. Unlike a traditional law firm, we don’t charge by the hour and we won’t charge for each phone call or email. Instead, all of our fees are fixed and agreed with you upfront. Why not contact us today to discuss your legal requirements in further detail, we’ll be delighted to talk to you!

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Ryan Lisk

Ryan has helped a vast number of businesses protect and control their intellectual property as well as drafting and advising on consumer and commercial contracts.

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