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Portland lobs fair-trade gluten-free artisan SUEBALL at Uber

City hopes to disrupt disruptive cab-hire app upstart

The US city of Portland, Oregon, is suing taxi-booking app maker Uber for operating unlicensed cabs.

Officials with the city's Board of Transportation said on Monday that it was going to court in order to enforce its regulations on for-hire car companies: for one thing, it's claimed Uber needs a license to run a taxi company in hipster central – and it doesn't have one despite launching its ride-sharing service in the area.

The filing calls for a court injunction that would block Uber from operating in the city unless it complies with the board's rules.

"Uber operates in the City of Portland, Oregon, providing for-hire vehicular transportation for compensation through its uberX platform," the city says in its filing [PDF].

"However, Uber does not comply with the applicable laws, regulations and Administrative Rules adopted by the City of Portland, Oregon, for providing for-hire vehicular transportation for compensation."

Uber was warned by officials that it could not launch in Portland as an unlicensed taxi service, but the company decided that it didn't much care and went ahead with a Portland launch that included a straight-faced "thank you" petition to Mayor Charlie Hales.

"Uber has received a tremendously warm welcome from riders and drivers in and around Portland. We appreciate the way residents have welcomed Uber into the Rose City, their support illustrates why it’s time to modernize Portland transportation regulation," the company said in a statement to The Register.

"In less than 4 hours, nearly 7,000 Portland residents have signed the petition in support of Uber and we remain hopeful that the city will listen to Portlanders who want safe, reliable, hassle free ride options now."

The mayor seemed less than amused with Uber, however, in announcing the suit.

"Our main concern is public health and safety, because the state invested in the cities the responsibility to do that. Beyond that, though, is the issue of fairness. Taxi cab companies follow rules on public health and safety. So do hotels and restaurants and construction companies and scores of other service providers," Mayor Charlie Hales said.

"Because everyone agrees: good regulations make for a safer community. Uber disagrees, so we’re seeking a court injunction."

If the cheapo-ride biz seems rather brash in its actions, perhaps it's because the company just trousered a fresh round of venture funding that inflated its theoretical worth to the ungodly sum of $41bn.

With the ballooning value, however has come mounting headaches for the company beyond just Portland. Uber has found itself banned in New Delhi, India, after a driver was accused of raping a passenger. The accusation is a particularly ugly addition to a growing list of allegations against Uber drivers.

The company has also had its share of corporate missteps in recent months. ®

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