Contracts: when friends become business partners

At Gymnasium Muristalden (Muristalden high school), participants in the Young Enterprise Switzerland (YES) Company Programme recently learned about the role intellectual property plays in their mini-companies. A key takeaway: draw up contracts, even if you’re good friends.

The mini-entrepreneurs of Gymnasium Muristalden. (Photo: IPI)

The year-long YES Company Programme is well underway. Young people from all over Switzerland are forming mini-companies, which they will manage under almost entirely real conditions for the next year.


The programme also involves an afternoon information session about intellectual property led by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), a national partner of the programme. It’s an important topic because mini-companies create value too. Senior IP Trainer Matthias Käch recently told mini-companies at Gymnasium Muristalden in Bern what they need to bear in mind.

The class of around 20 high school students were fascinated and asked questions. Experienced trainer Käch successfully convinced the group with his clear points. There were a few smiles when he explained how even major companies have put their foot in it in the past.


Focus on trade marks, copyright and contracts

“The workshops focus on trade marks and copyright,” says Matthias Käch. Although registering a trade mark isn’t on the cards for the young people just yet, they still need to be careful not to tread on any toes when choosing their brand name. 

Käch also wants to make sure that the young entrepreneurs are aware of the importance of contracts. The roles change when you start a mini-company. You’re still friends, but you’re also business partners now. There have been conflicts within mini-companies in the past because they had no contracts and nothing had been agreed in writing.

Business teacher Emanuel Hohn has been in charge of the YES project at Gymnasium Muristalden for six years. “The response to the workshop was amazing. All of the mini-companies have since drawn up contracts and are taking the subject very seriously.” He says that they haven’t had any legal issues of yet.


Matthias Käch visited Gymnasium Muristalden on 5 September 2023. His next workshops are already lined up. The teams that make it into the top 75 and can prove that they’ve done their homework are in with a chance of winning the IPI's IP Management Award.

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