I was an intern in a small furniture company for over year where I had an idea to develop an integrated software solution that would help any company of the same type get organized. A verbal agreement was made that I could keep the IP rights to my code being free to sell it, and the company would have exclusive license to use/modify its copy. I developed the software mostly as an intern (1.5 years), and recently (5 months) as an employee (still no contract), heavily underpaid.
Recently the company has changed its attitude and asked me to sign a contract giving them 50% of the IP rights ownership. I didn't sign, I am now checking what my options are. My question is: Who owns the IP rights to the software if no contract was present? Intern or an employer? What are my options to legally claim my code and avoid any future disputes? If I leave the company tomorrow, can they sue me if I modify and sell the software for profit?
It was a big mistake on my part that I didn't ask for written agreement up front, I never thought this would become an issue since the company dealt with furniture, completely unrelated to software. What they are asking is not fair and shows how greedy they've become. Hopefully the law is on my side.