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Uber faces another setback in Europe

BERLIN - Efforts by Uber to soften the company's battered image don't seem to be paying off in Germany.

A German court on Wednesday banned the startup from offering its ridesharing service nationwide, adding to the company's troubles in Europe.

Frankfurt state court spokesman Arne Hasse said the ruling banning the UberPop service from offering rides with drivers who don't have taxi permits was issued Wednesday. The ruling can be appealed.

The ruling stems from a suit brought against Uber by a German taxi association, which was heard in Frankfurt because it is one of several German cities where Uber launched operations. The court issued an injunction banning Uber from operating last summer but lifted it a few weeks later, saying that while it considered Uber's practices illegal an emergency injunction wasn't justified.

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Uber also has hit trouble in the Netherlands, Spain and France, which has effectively banned its service.

In India, where some of the company's drivers have faced allegations of sexual assault, Uber recently created a panic button for passengers. That feature isn't available outside the country.

Uber said earlier this month that it's working with the United Nations to create 1 million jobs for women as drivers on its platform by 2020, an initiative the service described as a way to accelerate economic opportunity for women.

Uber's challenges come amid mounting competition in ride-sharing, whose advocates say provides consumers with an alternative to conventional taxi services. Google (GOOG), which through its venture arm is an investor in Uber, is now reportedly preparing to compete against the ride-hailing company. Google is said to be preparing its own ride-hailing service, which may be offered in conjunction with its self-driving car project.

Uber's struggles haven't deterred investors from pouring money into the startup. The company in December raised $2.8 billion in its latest round of venture capital funding, valuing Uber at more than $40 billion.

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