The erythropoietin patent dispute took another twist on Fridaywhen Genetics Institute Inc. said that Ortho PharmaceuticalCorp. has filed suit in Germany against Boehringer MannheimGmbH, GI's European licensee for EPO.

"We believe the Kirin-Amgen patent has broad claims whichcover the recombinant production of EPO as well as therecombinantly produced EPO polypeptide," said Orthospokeswoman Sarah Colamarino.

Ortho has licensed the Kirin-Amgen EPO patent in Europe. Thatpatent issued in 1990. Kirin Brewery and Amgen Inc. in 1984formed a joint venture to develop and market EPO, which isused to treat anemia resulting from kidney dialysis.

To complicate matters, GI last month received a Europeanpatent covering the recombinant production of EPO. That patentjust entered the "opposition" period, and GI doesn't know if anyoppositions have been filed yet, said spokeswoman MelindaLindquist.

Boehringer Mannheim and others have filed oppositions to theKirin-Amgen patent with the European Patent Office.

The developments had little impact on either company's stock.GI (NASDAQ:GENI) closed Friday at $35, down 50 cents. Amgen(NASDAQ:AMGN) was up 88 cents at $117.88.

Lindquist declined comment on rumors that GI has retainedHarvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe to developan appeal to the Supreme Court in the company's attempt toregain its U.S. EPO patent, which an Appeals Court invalidatedin March. -- Karen Bernstein

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