In corporate surveys on hundreds of patent intensive companies by the Chicago based IP Performance Group, three patent milestones were identified as opportunities to recognize and reward inventors. These included:

1. Idea disclosure: upon submission of a new idea, via an idea disclosure form.
2. Patent filing: the idea is deemed to have commercial potential enough so to write and file a patent application.
3. Patent grant: the invention is grant intellectual property rights.

In the surveys, companies typically recognized two of the three opportunities to recognize ideas.