All-Limitations Rule Law & Legal Definition


All limitations rule is a principle applicable to patents law according to which each element of a claim must be present in an allegedly infringing device in order to establish literal infringement. This rule limits the doctrine of equivalents and prevents the doctrine's application to an entire claim, rather than the claim's constituent elements.

The all limitations rule provides that the doctrine of equivalents does not apply if applying the doctrine would vitiate an entire claim limitation. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit explains that there is no set formula for determining whether a finding of equivalence would vitiate a claim limitation, and thereby violate the all limitations rule. Rather, courts must consider the totality of the circumstances of each case and determine whether the alleged equivalent can be fairly characterized as an insubstantial change from the claimed subject matter without rendering the pertinent limitation meaningless.[Pfizer, Inc. v. Teva Pharms.USA, Inc., 429 F.3d 1364, 1379 (Fed. Cir. 2005)]

All limitations rule is also known as all elements rule.