SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- Genentech Inc. announcedMonday that the European Patent Office (EPO) rejected whatthe company hopes will be the last legal challenge to its t-PA(tissue plasminogen activator) patent.

The EPO in Munich, Germany, last week struck down theobjections raised by seven drug companies to a Europeanpatent granted in 1989 to Genentech for recombinant t-PA, athrombolytic agent used to dissolve blood clots in heart attackvictims. The decision followed a two-day hearing before EPO.

"This is the third instance in which the validity of these patentclaims has been affirmed," said Stephen Raines, Genentech'svice president of intellectual property. Genentech previouslysuccessfully defended its t-PA patents in Europe and theUnited States.

Objecting to the Genentech patent were Kabivitrum AB, theWellcome Foundation, Celltech Ltd., Toyo Boseki KabushikiKaisha, Abbott Laboratories, Behringwerke AG and BoehringerMannheim GmbH.

Genentech doesn't know if the EPO decision will have any effecton European sales of t-PA, a company spokesman said Monday.The company's t-PA is sold in Europe by its licensee, anotherGerman company called Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, under thetrade name Actilyse. Genentech sells the drug in the UnitedStates under the trade name Activase.

Genentech (NYSE:GNE) stock closed Monday at $28, up 88 cents.

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