While critics accuse Uber of price gouging over the high fees asked in Sydney for the people who were fleeing a hostage crisis, the company is not looking to apologize at all, but to actually patent it.
Uber applied last year for a U.S. patent for “dynamically adjusting prices for service”, with the system measuring supply and demand, and price fares accordingly. It has already applied for at least 13 other U.S. patents to rise above its potential competitors in the face of an initial public offering and for a total of 24 patents worldwide. It has failed to receive any patents yet, with ten applications already rejected for “obviousness”.
Started in 2009 in San Francisco, Uber has expanded over the years in more than 250 cities, becoming the largest car-booking service that passengers can turn to through a mobile phone application. The brand has recently doubled it worth to $40 billion, making it the most highly appraised U.S. technology start-up.
During the hostage crisis that took place in Sydney on December 15th, which ended with three deaths, Uber charged for its services four times its normal price, fact that received numerous critics.
Later on, the company said it reimbursed those rides, offering the service for free, explaining that the price surging is only used to encourage more drivers to sign online and pick passengers from that area. The brand reached an agreement this July to reduce fares during emergencies and natural disasters.
By Gabriela Florea