A Genetics Institute Inc. (GI) patent claim covering homogenouserythropoietin (EPO) was upheld in an hearing before the OppositionDivision of the European Patent Office.The patent was opposed by Cilag AG of Switzerland, a subsidiary ofJohnson & Johnson, whose Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp. affiliatelicensed EPO rights from Amgen Inc. Amgen, of Thousand Oaks,Calif., has patents in Europe and the U.S. covering the EPO gene. OnJune 20, GI was issued a U.S. patent covering homogenous EPO. Anearlier GI patent was invalidated on a point that involved a numericalclaim of specific activity.GI and affiliates and Amgen and affiliates still have other Europeanpatent actions pending against one another regarding EPO, a proteinthat stimulates production of red blood cells and is used to treat variousanemias."This reconfirms the significant contributions we made to thediscovery and development of EPO, Denies Harp, GI's corporatecommunications director, told BioWorld. "It's a victory for BoehringerMannheim (GmbH of Germany, which got European rights from GI),and represents a strengthening of our patent position in Europe."Peter Teeley, vice president of government and public relations forAmgen, said Amgen hasn't seen a written decision explaining therationale for the European patent ruling."This is really the first stage in the European Patent Office procedure,"Teeley told BioWorld. "Once we get that decision, we will appeal."Harp said GI, of Cambridge, Mass., has made no decision on what, ifany, legal action will be taken against Amgen, which GI believes isalso violating its U.S. patent. _ Jim Shrine

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