An Uber small business success under assault by D.C. regulators!

Success does not usually go unnoticed. If you provide a superior product, or service you want people to take note. Indeed, the free market is driven by the competitive entrepreneurial spirit of hardworking innovative individuals and small business owners are constantly striving to improve their products and services.

Unfortunately, sometimes government gets involved. In some cases burdensome regulations make it harder for businesses to grow and to innovate. But, it is particularly frustrating when you have developed a successful business strategy and government responds by threatening to impose new regulations to hamper your success.

That is exactly what is happening to one small business, which has recently drawn the ire of certain political figures in the District of Columbia. Uber has found success competing with traditional taxi cab services in several major cities by giving customers the opportunity to request service from their smartphones. They have developed an application which allows the customer to see how long it will take for an Uber driver to arrive, and which allows the customer to give instant feedback to the company as to how they enjoyed the service. Uber has gained a reputation for professional service, and customers seem to enjoy the option of taking luxury sedans and SUVs, even if they pay a little more than they would for a traditional taxi service. But, this success has some on the D.C. City Council up in arms, with one councilman explicitly calling for regulation to slow this company down.

As a policy matter, it seems inappropriate to punish a business for its success. But, as a legal matter, there may be problems with any plan to enact regulations targeted at a specific business. Additionally, if the only purpose of a regulation is to protect a government-backed industry from innovative entrepreneurial competition, there may be other legal problems as well.

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About Luke Wake

Luke A. Wake is a senior staff attorney at the NFIB Small Business Legal Center. Wake has particular expertise on environmental and land use issues, and has worked on numerous other constitutional issues and matters of importance to small business owners. He is an ardent defender of private property rights, which he believes are essential to the free enterprise system and the foundation of American liberty. As a strong advocate of individual rights and economic liberties, he has built his career defending small business interests. Since joining the NFIB Legal Center, Wake has focused on a whole host of issues, from employment law matters to regulatory compliance. In addition to serving as a resource for small business owners, Wake remains committed to the Legal Center’s pledge to ensure that the voice of small business is heard in the nation’s courts. He is also working to advance small business interests in law review articles, including publications in the Berkeley Journal of Law & Ecology, the Texas Journal of Law and Politics, and Competition Magazine. See R.S. Radford & Luke A. Wake, Deciphering and Extrapolating: Searching for Sense in Penn Central, 38 Ecology L.Q. 731, 746-747 (2011); Damien M. Schiff, Luke A. Wake, Leveling the Playing Field in David v. Goliath: Remedies to Agency Overreach, 17 Tex. L. Rev. & Pol. 97 (2012); Jarod M. Bona and Luke A. Wake, The Market-Participant Exception to State-Action Immunity From Antitrust Liability, J. of Antitrust and Unfair Competition of the State Bar of Ca., Vol. 23, No. 1, 156 (Spring 2014); James S. Burling and Luke A. Wake, Takings and Torts: The Role of Intention and Foreseeability in Assessing Takings Damages, in Condemnation 101: Making the Complex Simple in Eminent Domain 449-51 (ALI-ABA Committee on Continuing Professional Education eds. 2011). Before joining the Legal Center’s team, Wake completed a prestigious two-year fellowship as an attorney in the Pacific Legal Foundation’s (PLF) College of Public Interest Law. Wake is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland Ohio. He is a member of the California Bar, the District of Columbia Bar, and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar. He completed his undergraduate studies at Elon University in North Carolina in 2006 where he focused on political theory and corporate communications.
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