2. Errors in the printed version of the European patent specification

In T 150/89 some printing errors in the published patent specification were found which were not present in the version accepted by the EPO. The board found that such omissions should normally be corrected as a matter of routine. The decision to grant was legally binding as regards existence and scope of the patent (Art. 97 EPC 1973). The specification reproduced that decision (Art. 98 EPC 1973). It was an official document published by a public authority for general information, and as such had legal force before the courts. It was therefore subject to the same correction criteria as the grant decision itself under R. 89 EPC 1973 (now R. 140 EPC). Thus the specification was to be brought into line with the decision to grant, and whether this took the form of a reprint or a corrigendum (which was a matter for the department of first instance, or possibly its formalities officer, to decide) should clearly indicate the correction made.

In T 55/00 the examining division had sent a "Communication under R. 51(4) EPC 1973" to the representative of the appellant. The enclosed documents contained only pages 1 to 40 of the description. The appeal was against the decision of the examining division to refuse the appellant's request for correction of errors under R. 89 EPC 1973 (now R. 140 EPC). He had requested the issue of a corrected patent specification. The board held that a correction under R. 89 EPC 1973 was not possible, because the non-inclusion of pages 41 to 44 of the description was due to the discretion of the examining division and not to any error. The board held that because the EPC 1973 did not provide for any possibility of amending or revoking a patent once granted ­ except as a result of an opposition procedure ­ and because patent proprietors were not allowed to file a notice of opposition against their own patent, it was very important also to check the content of the decision and documents.

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