dcblogs writes: U.S tech companies lead all other industries in patent production, and Silicon Valley has the highest patent-producing population, according to a new study by the Brookings Institution. The rate of patenting by U.S. inventors "is at its highest point since the Industrial Revolution." The leading year for patent production was 1916, when 410 patents were awarded for every one million people. Other big inventive years are, in order, 1915, 1885, 1932, but next on the Brooking's list is 2010 and 2011. In 2011, there were about 387 patents awarded per million people. The Brookings report argues that, based on R&D spending, the patenting rate reflects a real increase in the number of valuable inventions and not the actions of companies simply to trying to patent more things. When patent activity is measured on a per capita basis globally, the U.S. ranks ninth behind Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Israel, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and Japan.