A Primer on Intellectual Property 157 However--and this is important--the provisional application does start the clock on your deadline for filing international applications under the Paris Convention (see the following "Protecting Your Assets: International Considerations" section). Searching for Prior Art Prior art is patent terminology for previous inventions that affect your claim that the invention is novel and non-obvious. Example: If I get an idea that having adhesive on the back of notes in my notepad is a great idea and I should get a patent, a search for prior art would turn up Art Fry and Spencer Silverman's invention of the Post-it note. Insufficient prior art searches cause massive heartache and financial waste for inventors who invest in the application process only to be turned down by the patent examiner due to prior art. Prior art includes both patented and public domain technology, so it is advisable to hire a professional search firm that can search both categories rather than just searching the USPTO's online patent databases yourself. Note NOTE Another wrinkle in the search for prior art is the ability of foreignapplicants to rely on activities occurring in WTO signatory countries(after January 1, 1996) to prove dates of owner- ship.This means that aforeign party could contest your application by showing that theyinvented the technology before you in another country .There arerestrictions on this sit- uation arising, but if you think that you havecompetitors in WTO signatory countries, advise your search firm. Prosecution After a patent application has been submitted, a patent examiner is assigned to determine if the