I am building a custom sales portal at my place of employment, a large company. I would like to start a saas business that uses the same features I am building for the custom project at work. I want to leverage the knowledge I have, not just steal the code and use it to start a business.
What do I need to be worried about? If someone finds out a couple years down the road that I started the business and the solution looks very similar to the custom solution I developed at work, could they try to sue me? Should I have a separate developer completely rewrite the code from scratch to protect my self? I want to make sure what I'm doing is legit.
The UI uses an open source UI Framework, so the saas proudct I want to create would use the same and ultimately look very similar.
This is a very tricky subject and one you should probably consult a solicitor / lawyer about. In short you need to look at your employment contact, this might very well state that what you produce or invent while at work is the property of your employer, it might also contain clauses that prevent you directly competing with them or working for somebody who does.
If those clauses would stand up in court however is a different matter all together.
What country are you based in? As the laws are very different for every country. In England for example you can't get IP protection on code as far as I know, but you can on the 'business process' so the ideas behind the code.
Something else to consider is that if your current employer find out what you plan on doing then you could end up being sacked for gross misconduct (again depending on your contract).
You are considering a move into potentially dangerous territory.
The greatest risk probably is a claim by your current employer that you misappropriated its trade secrets for your benefit.
The only way you can obtain a definitive answer to your questions it to provide all relevant documents and facts to a lawyer so s/he can render a legal opinion.
Disclaimer: This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.