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Ask HN: How to structure JV for SaaS with existing IP?
2 points by kexemirrarr 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 4 comments
I develop and maintain a website / research platform for a former colleague. I introduced some novel ideas into their research platform, a year or so ago, utilising some common machine learning models. They are very happy with the work.

They paid me for this work at an hourly rate. I have been quite generous partly because I consider my former colleague to be a friend and also because I felt I would learn something useful. I feel they now have an excellent system that is robust and for an incredibly cheap price.

They would now like to market the whole platform as SaaS. My former colleague has a very good reputation within their industry and plans to sell the platform to other businesses in the same field.

They've offered to form a Joint Venture with me for the new setup. I would be responsible for developing and managing the platform and they would be responsible for marketing it.

I'm quite aware of the extra effort involved converting the existing code base into a SaaS and the additional overhead of maintaining the product for multiple customers. It's a lot of work.

I also have a day job and a family life. The day job is well paid and family life can be quite demanding.

I see the benefits of the JV. I will gain 50% of the Intellectual Property that I have already developed. My former colleague/friend has a good chance of successfully marketing the suite and perhaps I might quit my day job sooner than planned.

I also can't help seeing asymmetry in the effort, that is writing code + testing, live support, systems setup etc vs selling the system (which unfortunately I envisage as having the occasional lunch/calling up old friends & perhaps asking for favours). I might be overplaying this part.

I was wondering if anyone here had any thoughts? Perhaps others have had similar experiences with success or maybe it didn't work out?

Did you actually sign an IP agreement when you did that contract work? If not, it's your copyright anyway.

Selling this stuff is actually much harder than you think. A lot of organizations have home built solutions that work "okay" and are hesitant to switch. There are internal gatekeepers who will need demos, evaluations, test/trial accounts. That can go on for months, sometimes years.

Thanks. That's a very good point. In this case I have been commissioned to do the work. No agreement was in place and UK law says it is my copyright.


That really does remove one of my perceived core benefits from this venture.

"Intellectual Property"

you mean your copyright?

What's the distinction in your opinion? Is copyright something that can be enforced by law whereas IP isn't?

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