I'm currently in an intellectual property dispute over software I developed in a new start-up (Canadian corp). It was written under the false pretense that I would have 25% ownership of the company, but in its current state, I have 0%. The owner later changed the offer to 5% prior to the software's release.
Since I have no ownership, I was a contractor (no contracts signed) working in the office with them, though I was also freelancing in the office as well so I am in no way an employee. All the payments I received were from revenue I directly generated as a contractor. If I was a standard contractor for hire, I worked for less than a quarter of my typical rate since I'd own 25%.
While the software was written for the company (no legal agreements), the compensation structure was changed significantly over what was initially verbally agreed upon (both contract rate + ownership). Most of the software development was done after hours, and was also done entirely on my own computer. My payments were via check, and the product name was part of the memo (along with other projects we'd worked on).
Myself and another guy from the company have parted ways based on these and similar ethical reasons, which leaves the primary dispute of the product / IP ownership.
From what I typically see, unless IP is explicitly transferred, it is retained by the creator. I understand some of the above circumstances make this very gray to me.
In summary: I was paid to be part of the team, but not to directly build the software. The product was originally my idea, and was creatively developed by me and the partner I am leaving with. The rest of the team had no creative input on the software or the business model we built around it. No contracts were ever signed for the project and I was paid as a contractor.
Who owns the IP?
(FYI - I will be seeing a lawyer soon as well).