Correction of errors in decisions must be clearly distinguished from correction of errors in documents filed by the applicant (or patentee) pursuant to Rule 139. For the latter, see A‑V, 3 and H‑VI, 4.2 and subparagraphs. Correction of errors made by the applicant (or patentee) in application (or patent) documents cannot be arrived at in a roundabout manner through correction of the decision to grant (or maintain in amended form).
Correction of a decision is admissible only if the text of the decision is manifestly other than intended by the department concerned. Thus only linguistic errors, errors of transcription and obvious mistakes in decisions can be corrected. The correction of a mistake in a decision under Rule 140 has a retrospective effect (see T 212/88). Therefore, when the decision to be corrected is the refusal of the application or the revocation of the patent, the limit date for filing an appeal is not changed by the corrected decision.
Rule 140 is not available to correct errors in documents filed by a patent applicant or proprietor (G 1/10). Correction of such documents is admissible only under Rule 139 until the patent is granted (see H‑VI, 4.2.1). After this point in time, only errors in bibliographic data or printing errors in the publication concerning the decision to grant or to maintain the patent in amended form may be corrected (see H‑VI, 3 and H-VI, 5.2).
It is the duty of the applicant or patentee to properly check the documents as proposed for grant or for maintenance in amended form, respectively (see Rules 71(5), Rule 82(2) and Rule 95(2), Rule 95 (3) and G 1/10).
Corrections of decisions are to be made by a decision at the reasoned request of one of the parties or by the EPO of its own motion. If the request for correction is refused, this decision must be reasoned (see T 850/95). These reasons must previously have been communicated to the requester (Art. 113(1)).
The competence to correct errors lies with the body which took the decision. Hence, even during opposition proceedings, the Examining Division is competent for correcting errors in bibliographic data contained in the decision to grant.