The protection of intellectual property rights in the digital economy requires collaboration among all stakeholders across borders, Chinese and British speakers agreed at Alibaba's Business and IPR Protection Summit held in London last week.

The event was co-hosted by government agencies, industry associations and academic institutions.

"We are committed to maintaining a robust international IP network," said Ros Lynch, copyright and IP enforcement director at the Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom. "We greatly value the close collaboration that we enjoy with the China IP offices and our e-commerce partner Alibaba, with which we are co-hosting this event."

Together with the Chinese e-commerce giant, UKIPO will work toward reducing sales of counterfeit goods on global e-commerce sites, she said.

"Legitimate businesses should be able to trade with confidence knowing that they are protected by their intellectual property rights," she stressed. "Consumers will be safeguarded, too."

Matthew Bassiur, vice-president and head of global IP enforcement at Alibaba Group, said: "Everybody is part of the solution, we cannot fight counterfeiters alone."

The London summit focused on small and medium-sized enterprises, believed to be the engines of economic growth around the world and who are doing business in great numbers across Alibaba's platforms, Bassiur said.

"This summit is not just about the business opportunities available to SMEs but also about the tools and resources available to them in IPR protection," he said.

"SMEs are a core part of the UK's economic engine, and the ACG (Anti-Counterfeiting Group) welcomes opportunities to help grow their businesses and protect their IP rights," said Phil Lewis, director-general of ACG, a UK-based international association that fights against counterfeit goods in global trade and was also the co-host of the event.

The conference, with more than 300 attendees, mostly SMEs, brought together external stakeholders engaged in IPR protection.

In addition to UKIPO and ACG, other co-hosts included City of London Police, the China-Britain Business Council - a trade and investment promotion organization, and King's College.

"Alibaba backs its words with action when it comes to IPR enforcement. Today's summit is one more example of Alibaba's commitment to engage and collaborate with external stakeholders," said Peter Ratcliffe, detective superintendent at City of London Police.

"There's no magic pill or secret weapon," said Bassiur, who was a prosecutor for 11 years at both state and federal levels in the United States.

He said it was only through real collaboration and honest dialogue among all stakeholders that an e-commerce company like Alibaba could be most effective in its IPR protection efforts.

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