In T 1173/97
(OJ 1999, 609) the board, however, thought that, although TRIPS could not be applied directly to the EPC 1973, it was appropriate to take it into consideration in connection with the patentability of computer program products, for TRIPS was aimed at setting common standards and principles concerning the availability, scope and use of trade-related intellectual property rights. It thus gave a clear indication of current trends. The appellant's reference to current practice at the US and Japanese patent offices caused the board to emphasise that the legal position in the USA and Japan differed greatly from that under the EPC 1973; only the EPC 1973 contained an exclusion such as that in Art. 52(2)
and (3) EPC 1973
. These developments nevertheless represented a useful indication of modern trends and, in the board's view, could contribute to the further highly desirable (worldwide) harmonisation of patent law.