The all elements rule or all limitations rule (often written with a hyphen after "all") is a legal test used in US patent law to determine whether a given reference shows that a patent claim lacks the novelty required to be valid. The rule is also applicable to an obviousness analysis. Under the rule, a single reference (for anticipation) or the combination of references relied upon, plus the ordinary knowledge of persons skilled in the art (for obviousness), must provide each claimed element. For anticipation, and under certain circumstances for obviousness, the doctrine of inherency may be relied on to meet this test.
- In order to demonstrate anticipation, the proponent must show “that the four corners of a single, prior art document describe every element of the claimed invention.” Advanced Display Sys., Inc. v. Kent State Univ., 212 F.3d 1272, 1282 (Fed. Cir. 2000). Moreover, the reference must also disclose those elements “arranged as in the claim.” Connell v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 722 F.2d 1542, 1548 (Fed. Cir. 1983).
- See Beckson Marine, Inc. v. NFM, Inc., 292 F.3d 718, 727 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (holding that for claimed subject matter to be obvious either the prior art references must expressly reach each claim limitation exactly or else the record must disclose a reason for a person of ordinary skill in the art to modify the prior art teachings to obtain the claimed invention).