As Naples readers who have checked in on this blog have probably gathered by now, the Internet is a huge battleground when it comes to intellectual property. Although the Internet is an excellent vehicle for disseminating useful information, it also provides ample opportunity to infringe on the intellectual property rights of inventors and businesses.

One good way to gauge just how viciously this war is being fought to look at requests that search engine Google receives to remove links to sites that provide accessed to material that allegedly infringes on trademarks, copyrights and patents.

In July 2011, the first month Google started keeping track of requests to remove such links, it received an average 129,063 requests each week. As of last month, the average figure had climbed to 284,850. Keep in mind that each request can ask for multiple links to be removed; last month, a total of 1.2 million links were taken down. (Google has said it grants 97 percent of these requests.)

Most of the requests come from big companies. Microsoft, for example, requested last month that Google take down more than 500,000 links to websites that offered pirated Microsoft software. The British Phonographic Institute, which represents record labels, asked for 160,000 links to be removed because they took users to sites where they could illegally download music.

Naturally, asking Google to take down links to sites where people are violating your intellectual property rights is a good first step to preserving your valuable business assets, but it is not enough. There are myriad other ways unscrupulous people could hurt your business by infringing on your intellectual property rights, so it is important for you to be very vigilant about possible threats so they can be identified and nullified. You may want to speak to an intellectual property attorney to devise a practical, workable strategy for this necessary surveillance.

Source: BBC News, “Google’s copyright complaints flag up piracy of Microsoft,” May 25, 2012