5. Correction of printing errors in the publication of the patent specification

Errors in publication occur where the content of the printed specification differs from the documents (Druckexemplar) transmitted to the applicant, if these documents form the basis of the decision to grant. Such errors in publication can be corrected at any time. The competence to correct errors in publication lies with the body before which proceedings are or were last pending (Guidelines for Examination H‑VI, 4 – November 2018 version). Mistakes in the specification of a European patent arising in the course of its production have no effect on the content of the patent granted (Guidelines for Examination C‑V, 10 – November 2018 version).

In T 84/16 the board noted that the text of the patent specification had no binding character. Its function is confined to facilitating public access to the content of the granted patent. The definitive text of the patent is established by the grant decision. The board held that while the EPC does not explicitly deal with the situation where the patent specification does not correctly reproduce the content of the European patent, it is established practice at the EPO that if the patent specification diverges from the text on which the grant decision is based, then the patent specification is corrected by the EPO (T 150/89, T 1644/10, Guidelines C‑V, 10. – November 2018 version).

In T 84/16 the specification contained printing errors, but the patentee instead of requesting a reprint of the patent specification, filed an appeal, which was held to be inadmissible, the appropriate remedy in such cases being that the text of the patent specification be brought into conformity with the content of the grant decision. The Office can arrange for correction at any time by means of a note in the European Patent Bulletin and publication of a corrigendum (see R. 143(2) EPC and the Decision of the President of the EPO dated 14 October 2009, OJ 2009, 598).

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