Biogen Inc. announced Monday that the European PatentOffice's (EPO) Technical Board of Appeal has upheld all of theclaims in Biogen's patent for genetically engineered alphainterferon (IFN). The decision is final and binding.

The EPO's Opposition Division had already ruled in 1990 that"the claims in Biogen's patent were patentable in all aspects,"the Cambridge, Mass., company said. But Boehringer IngelheimPharma Ges. mbH, Boehringer Mannheim GmbH and Bender &Co. Ges. mbH sought to overturn that ruling, challenging it onthe basis of "inventive step" or "obviousness," Kathryn Bloom,Biogen's director of communications told BioWorld.

"This decision completes the legal process in the EuropeanPatent Office and reaffirms Biogen's fundamental patentposition in alpha interferon," said James Vincent, Biogen's chiefexecutive officer.

Schering-Plough Corp. of Madison, N.J., markets Biogen's alphaIFN worldwide as Intron A. Intron A is being sold to treat morethan 15 anti-viral and anti-cancer indications, includinghepatitis B, hepatitis C, genital warts, hairy cell leukemia andKaposi's sarcoma.

Biogen's stock (NASDAQ:BGEN) was up $1.25 on Monday to$39.25.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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