Risks of Entering a Design Competition

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This page clearly points outs several high-risk factors that shall be considered when taking part in design competitions.

Risks in Design Competitions
A’ Design Award & Competition, is one of the worlds’ leading design accolades. The competition program itself was designed in a scholarly way to create value for participants; as a part of this study, special academic research was conducted to assess and reduce potential risks to participants of design competitions, awards and accolades. Based on the research findings, survey results and studies conducted the A’ Design Competition was structured and designed in a way to reduce any design competition entry risks as much as possible. Design competition participatin risks highlighted in this page must be carefully read for increased awareness regarding risks when joining design competitions and to understand any potential risks of taking part in a design contest, accolade or challenge organized by third parties.

We, once again invite any prospective participants to note that, no matter which design competition, award, contest, challenges or accolades you would participate there are always a series of risks involved in doing so.

General risks of participating a design competition, regardless of the organizer, could be classified as: 1. Risks related to intellectual properties; industrial design rights and copyrights, 2. Risks related to competition participation agreements; liability conditions such as participant obligations and indemnity 3. Risks related to third parties: organizers, sponsors or jury, 4. Risks related to loss of economic resources, and finally the risk of 5. Inability to take part in further competitions. All of these risks are explained below, and please do contact us if you have any other questions or comments.


The Risk & Issue What do we do about it? Do risk exists?

Risk of losing rights to your design

This is high risk for many designers since our studies and surveys shows that over sixty percent of designers do not read the agreements and terms when joining contests, many unknown one-time design competition organizers (usually companies, product manufacturers and in some rare cases very big international brands) could therefore legally steal designs by writing specific t conditions in terms and agreements of competitions you sign without reading. This risk usually prevails in free to join design contests, speculative competitions and awards. The risk arises as in terms and conditions of these design competitions, you might be transferring or obliged to transfer design rights if your design were to be selected as winner. To avoid this risk, read any and all design competition terms carefully. This risk does not exists in A' Design Award and Competition as the terms and conditions were carefully written to avoid such issues for designers.

Does not Exist at A' Design Award

The risk of losing rights to your designs through “evil competition terms” does not exist in A’ Design Award & Competition, we do not ask for you to transfer your design rights to us, we do not want to license or buy your industrial design rights, we do not require or oblige you to transfer your industrial design rights, and the A' Design Award and Competition entrants keep their design rights. However please note it once again that we ask for a non-exclusive publication rights or licensing to your profile, images or content submitted by you and your entry so that we could publish your award winning works and promote your brands as we promise. To avoid publishing we actually have a "concealed" category available on demand (in normal conditions, all entries will be published), and the concealed competition categories could be useful to participate without getting published.

Risk of losing publishing rights

This is a risk very common in almost all design competitions; since one of the primary aims of joining design awards is to create publicity and awareness for you and your projects, award organizers almost always ask that you provide free licensing of the images or photos you submit during entry for publication purposes. Many competitions, except specialized ones, will not be paying you money for publishing or advertising your works, and indeed some organizers might actually ask money to publish your works. Some competitions could require to be the sole licensor, which could limit you joining other competitions and result you to lose your publishing rights. This risk is significantly reduced (we do not ask to be sole publisher) and can be totally eliminated in A' Design Award & Competition by participating the accolades through concealed entry methods where results are not published.

Eliminated via Terms, Concealed Entry

The risk of losing publishing rights to your design is eliminated in A’ Design Awards; A’ Design Awards will not be requesting a non-exclusive rights to publish your works. A’ Design Awards will publishing and advertising your award winning works without asking or providing any compensation. A’ Design Awards will not ask you to transfer publication rights; you can sell publication rights of your work to others. A’ Design Awards will not limit your participation to any other design competitions or contests, you can join any competitions you like after winning A’ Design Awards. A’ Design Award agreement states you give us rights to publish your works but we are not necessary the sole licensor or publisher of your works, after joining a design award and competition you can submit your works to other competitions if ther guidelines permit it. Submit using concealed entry to totally eliminate this risk.

Risk of losing the chance to patent industrial designs rights

The most visible risks of joining any design competition is due to potential loss of intellectual property rights; This risk exists for any designers who have not yet patented their works. A’ Design Award & Competition suggests any prospective entrant to legally register their work through patents before submitting it to the competition, because, after results are announced and the works become publicly visible, you will lose the right to register a patent for your industrial design; i.e. there is a risk of losing the possibility to register an industrial design right. However, this risk does not exists for art works which are protected by copyrights; since art works are protected under many international conventions without the need of legal registration. The risk of losing chance to patent industrial design rights could be eliminated by joining the A' Design Award through "Concealed Entry" methodology which does not publish details or lists regarding award winning works. The "Concealed Entry" method was devised to eliminate rights losing risk and is available only in A' Design Award & Competition.

Concealed Entry to Eliminate the risk, and the Design Creation Program

The risk of losing your chance to patent your industrial design do exists in A’ Design Award & Competition but it could be eliminated through Concealed Entry method. Please note that this risk exists in any and all other design competitions, awards and contests which would publish submitted works, and therefore we prepare this particular page to at least let you know that there exists such a risk, We advise any entrants to register "Global Patents" for their industrial designs before taking part in the competition, we are aware that the global patents cost tens of thousands of euros and registrations shall be made in many countries simultaneously. and in addition we are providing each applicant a way to show proof of maternity for designs through the “Design Creation” program. This document is freely provided by us, while not a patent, could be useful in some cases as explained in the program page, this program does not reduce or eliminate the risk of losing chance to patent your designs. This risk is eliminated if you join the "Concealed Categories" which do not publish your works.

Contract termination or further fees

Many design awards will require you to sign a binding contract which could put you in a position to pay further fees, and you are more likely to sign in advance for additional or post-competition fees or services, if you were not to pay these fees you might be sued or expelled from competitions. This is a highly possible scenario which happens commonly in many prestigious international design awards.

Reduced, Eliminated via Concealed Entry

A’ Design Award & Competition does not require or oblige participants to pay any further fees. We have a clause in our terms and agreements that we would if it would be absolutely necessary, but in the many years that the competition is organized, we have never forced this cause even once and even create a no-further fees page to create awareness of such issues.

Risks related to indemnity clauses

Most of the design competitions will not accept any legal cases which is caused due to your entries. The highest risk factor is when you use unlicensed stock photography or other third party material in your submissions for which you are sued for doing so. The second risk is of course being sued for directly infringing others’ works, copyrights, patents or trademarks, again for which the competition you take part in would not be responsible, especially if there is an indemnity clause included.

Reduced, Eliminated via Concealed Entry

A’ Design Award and Competition tries to filter entries as much as possible, and we do our best to alert or hint participants of potential human errors, copyright infringements or trademark issues. We will do our best to reject or disqualify entries that we were able to identify as copyright, trademark or patent infringing; but of course there could be cases we miss. By disqualifying (post-competition) or rejecting work (preliminary evaluation), we decrease your legal risks.

Risks relating to judging process

Many design awards, competitions, accolades or challenges do not ask jury members to explicitly state that they would not disclosure the designs to public or other third parties; i.e. many design competitions do not ask the jurors to sign a NDA or to honor any sort of confidentiality agreement. In such competitions, jury members could themselves see or copy your designs, or pass them to companies, creating risks for you.

Significantly Reduced

A’ Design Award and Competition carefully selects the jury members and asks each jury member to honor the judging agreement and guidelines by not sharing or disclosing work details or saving them to other mediums. Jury members vote, every year on evaluation criteria to ensure the entries are judged and considered in a correct way, and of course each jury signs the jurors' agreement.

Risk of abandonment

There are many design awards which could get cancelled or abandoned in the half way; imagine you join a design award by paying the entry fees and not able to access the design competition any further. We know this thanks to our research and questioners conducted, by joining unknown competitions you might be forfeiting your entry fees for an event which would not be happening at all.

Does not exists in A' Design Award

A’ Design Award and Competition has been organized for many years in a professional manner, and we will keep organizing it as our model is self-sustainable. Competitions and contests that are organized by commercial entities to provide advertising for their events could be cancelled or discontinued at any time, however this risk does not exists in A' Design Award and Competition.

Risk of design theft by peers

In many design contests (especially those organized by companies trying to procure specific designs through popular contest platforms), in order to spur competition and to facilitate exchange of ideas, the competition entry systems are designed in a way such that peers could see other entries while the contests are still running; this means you could see a competitors’ work while the competition is still open for entries and vice-versa. This creates serious issues and many common examples of too much inspiration or design theft by peers. 

Does not exists in A' Design Award

A’ Design Award and Competition does not allow any participants to see others’ works during or before the competition, indeed even the jury cannot see the entries before the deadline, making sure no one gets over inspired from others’ work. The risk of design theft by peers which is common in amateur design contests, does not exists at A' Design Award and Competition which takes the necessary precautions to ensure that the participants take part in the event in a fair and square manner, in the highest professional way possible.

Risk of incorrect evaluation

Many design contests and speculative competitions will not have a good award jury that could potentially judge your design. Especially cheap design contests are organized over contest platforms by people who lack formal education or expertise in design, looking for some best works yet such “contest sponsors” (and the sole jurors) do usually lack the capacity to judge the qualities of submitted entries; you risk your well-made in-depth though design to be scored by some stranger (usually owner of a small business or their family members will judge your work in small design contests), and it is obvious but also such design contests lack formal methodology or scoring criteria.

Significantly Reduced

A’ Design Award and Competition jury is composed of three parts; Professional, Academic and Focus Group Jury Members (including Press Members and Entrepreneurs). This is a very professional jury with great experience in design, able to differentiate and vote fairly for your project based on very well established guidelines, competition scoring procedures and furthermore the votes of the jury is weighted and normalized to guarantee that you get a fair score. Each year, we ask new jury members about their insights about how the entries in the category they are voting shall be evaluated, to ensure that the voting criteria is up to date always.

Risk of political elimination

Observed in some prestigious and large (especially national) accolades and prizes, you will be potentially facing with differentiation based on gender, religion, nationality or politic view, and your chances of winning such competitions is more likely to depend on your political connections then your merits; these so called design awards and competitions will not consider “outsider” works for the accolades, especially when there are prize money involved, economics and politics will become a more important factor.

Does not exists in A' Design Award

A’ Design Award and Competition is the worlds’ most independent design accolades; we are not sponsored by any government or any institution and purely function based on entry fees paid by participants, furthermore our evaluation methodology is designed in a way to eliminate any peer-pressure that is seen in jury meetings; entries are blindly voted, and every jury member has equal weight, no one knows whose entries they are voting for and of course the A’ Design Award jury agrees to honor the juror’s agreement which could be compared to “Hippocratic Oath”.

Risk of information leakage

Only a very few design competitions will be carefully protecting your entries during voting. In most design award and competition platforms, the passwords you enter are saved in some database or text file, and therefore easily stolen, it is a news that you are accustomed to. Most design competitions will not invest in computer security or information architecture to protect your entries which could cause significant risks.

Reduced in A' Design Award

A’ Design Award & Competition uses a very unique system and an advanced technology based on Secure Hash Algorithm; we do not save your password in any database, and use a similar strategy to hide important documents regarding your entry from potential threads. We cannot say that this risk is totally eliminated; but we say that we do our best to reduce these risks to a certain low level.

Risks of losing time and money

In many design awards and competitions, you are going to either lose your money or your time. This happens in contests, accolades, awards and any other events. For competitions which require payments, you are more likely to lose your entry fees and of course the time to prepare any presentations or send any projects. For free to join contests, as we highlighted earlier, you are likely to lose your design rights and time. In some other prestigious international design awards, you will lose significant money due to further fee schemas. In many competitions, since your presentation would not be good or correct or since it does not fit some very strict technical requirements it would get eliminated even without voting, loss of time and money.

Significantly Reduced in A' Design Award

A’ Design Award and Competition is different; we provide a preliminary phase, which is free of charge, to ensure that your entry is valid for competition or not, we also provide a preliminary score which you could use to understand your chances of winning the accolades. The preliminary checks therefore help you save time and money; do not join the competition if your score is low, and we will not let you join with a poor presentation either. A' Design Award significantly reduces your risk of losing time and money by communicating in advance about the potential of your design through evaluation of your design quality via preliminary checks. Furthermore, professional preliminary checking service is also available at disposal.

Risk of results manipulation

In some design competitions, contests and accolades, organized by companies or magazines your entry will be open to public voting and you will be suggested to invite your friends to visit the competition organizers’ website to vote on your designs; these competitions state that the designs with the highest votes would win; they are making you sort of beg for votes and likes, which is non respectful for any designer; the role of a designer is to create good design, not necessarily advertise design competition organizers’ website to increase traffic. Of course we are not against public voting, we believe for social issues and projects it makes sense but it should not be exploited by award organizers to drive traffic. Any competition voted publicly is not serious. Furthermore, some competitions make it possible to "beg" for votes from jury, which is of course a terrible situation.

Does not exists in A' Design Award

Entries to the A’ Design Award and Competition are voted by a very large jury panel, following the jury submission guidelines through blind voting to ensure that your entry gets the respect it truly deserves. You are never asked to ask others for votes, we spend our advertising budget to promote our website and your designs so that you do not become a “marketer”; For each winner we provide a winners’ kit consisting of PR Services; i.e. we market, advertise and publicize your works, free of charge without making you bothered. Furthermore, vote "begging" is not possible at A' Design Award and Competitions, we do regularly receive such requests and we are eliminating these entries very quickly even though it costs getting hate mails and negative PR from eliminated designers. Our terms and conditions are straightforward against contacting jury for asking votes.

Risk of swift elimination or disqualification due to presentation errors

In other so called good design awards and contests, your entry will get instantly disqualified if your presentation is not correct or if your presentation is not compliant with their entry guidelines: You will not even be given a chance to fix what is wrong, even if the mistake is just too small; other design awards will burn your participation and nomination fees fast without giving you any change to make changes, or they will let your design to be voted and scored with its incorrect presentation style which too will lead to its elimination from the accolade. Other design awards will not tell you if your design award presentation is not good or compliant with their entry guidelines; they simply don't care and other design awards earn more if you fail and get eliminated or disqualified fast. This, zero-care policy of other design awards is a terrible yet widely used practice that does not create any value for participating designers, and A' Design Award is against disqualifying participants due to small mistakes, and we have developed a mechanism to help ensure you always participate the best way possible.

Significantly Reduced in A' Design Award

Entries to the A’ Design Award and Competition are screened by a preliminary jury panel which checks each entry for hundreds of presentation aspects to ensure your presentation does not contain any errors or issues that could cause swift elimination or disqualification of your entry. Furthermore, A' Design Award participants are provided a chance to update their presentations after nomination until voting starts to ensure the participants could make the necessary changes to fix their presentations. Finally, if your entry has still issues that are not fixed before voting, A' Design Award will try to fix your entry on your behalf (for example, entry guidelines require anonymous entry, therefore if there are names noted in your images it could normally lead to disqualification, but we will take preemptive action such as removing names from your images to ensure your entry does not get disqualified) before jurors vote, it is important to note that if we take action to fix your entry, you will be subject to micro fees or penalties but at least your work does not get disqualified and your nomination fees don't get burned.

Of course there could be many more risks involved, but do please let us know about your concerns and questions and we will think on building the necessary tools to prevent or reduce such issues. We are disposable; contact us through our contact form. Remember that the competition is organized by humans, and therefore there will always be “human error” involved. We do not accept any sort of responsibility as we clearly state in our terms and conditions. Please ensure reading our terms before participation.

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