Uniqlo's Pokémon Design Contest's Grand Prize Winner Disqualified
posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
The first place winner of UNIQLO's UT GRAND PRIX 2019 (UTGP) Pokémon t-shirt design contest was disqualified after it was found the same design was previously used for a phone case sold by online retailer TaoBao. Grand prize winner Li Wen Pei's design showed the Magikarp and Gyarados in a mosaic-like style.
The rules of the contest stated that the design could not have previously been published. Li Wen Pei wrote about the design on their Weibo social media account. According to Li Wen Pei, the design is theirs and they did sell a small number of smartphone cases featuring the design prior to entering it in the contest.
"Hello everyone. I sold a small number of smartphone cases with the same artwork (before I submitted it for Pokémon UTGP 2019). Unfortunately there are pirates who have stolen my artwork. Therefore please do not share the pirated goods," Li Wen Pei wrote.
The message confirmed to UNIQLO that the design was previously used on merchandise and thus could not qualify under the contest guidelines. If UNIQLO had not disqualified the Gyarados design it would have appeared on in-game items in the upcoming Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Nintendo Switch games. The Grand Prize also included US$10,000 in winnings.
UNIQLO appears to have scrapped the contest entirely. The company released a statement on Wednesday that states, "UNIQLO will not award the Grand Prize to another entrant or sell merchandise featuring the design." The company apologized to stakeholders and those looking forward to purchasing items featuring the winning design.
The fashion site is selling t-shirts of the winning second and third place designs. Japanese artist mizukilobyte's design is a white t-shirt with an Unown Pokémon on the pocket and more Unowns on the back. American artist Emily's design shows a shades-wearing Pikachu sipping a drink underneath an Alolan Exeggutor.
The designs were judged by The Pokemon Company president and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara, GAME FREAK managing director Ken Sugimori, and UNIQLO UT creative director NIGO. The second and third place design as well as other entries from around the world will go on sale as t-shirts on June 24.