Art. 97(3) EPC (former Art. 97(4) EPC 1973) stipulates that the decision to grant a European patent shall take effect on the date on which the mention of the grant is published in the European Patent Bulletin.
In decision J 14/87 (OJ 1988, 295) the question arose to what extent a deficiency in the publication of the mention of grant of a European patent, i.e. the omission of important particulars relating to the grant, might render the patent ineffective. The board held that in principle deficiencies in the publication of the mention of grant in the European Patent Bulletin did not necessarily render the decision to grant within the meaning of Art. 97(4) EPC 1973 ineffective. Nevertheless, this matter could be decided only in the light of the case in question and the fact that the purpose of the publication was to draw the attention of interested parties to the grant of the patent, and also that any decision to file an opposition had, under normal circumstances, to be based on a careful examination of the extent of the protection conferred by the patent and not solely on the particulars given in the European Patent Bulletin. Such an examination could be carried out satisfactorily only if the patent specification was published at the same time as the mention of grant of the patent.