Long story short:
I was employed at a rather large factory which is one of the largest plant based companies in the world, recently bought by an investment firm not so long ago.
Anyways, I developed a program which was used at the factory, it could tell whenever any machines were not running, even if it was due to a manual stop or anything else. My program knew the reason why the machine was idling. This program made it so much easier for the entire factory, workers were happy because they didn't need to do any manual work and write down every time the machine stopped.
Lead up to about a year ago.
Factory appoints a new chief, all the old employees that were in a leader position was let go because it was time for "new blood to come in". There was talk a lot of talk about selling off parts of the factory, including machines and so on. This included programs that I had developed, including the program that identified whenever a machine stopped. I developed this program on my spare time, showed it to the old management and they liked it enough that they wanted to use it on every station in the factory. Every machine was to use this program, all that had to be done was for the program to be maintained weekly. This was around 5 years ago or so.
When the newly appointed factory chief wanted to let the the old employees, me included, leave, it was not known that I was the person behind that program. Anyways, at my meeting with HR and the factory chief I said that I was willing to sell them the program and teach someone how to maintain the program. The factory chief laughed in my face and said it was company property and that it was simply "their program" and not mine. I offered to show them the source code and everything but it lead up to the point where if I was to tamper with the program before my departure, they would sue me. I was officially let go, 2 month countdown began and after 2 months I was free.
After a week or so, they noticed problems with the program, it would stop loading, stop registering stops and it would mislabel stops. I knew that this was when the fun was about to begin. After a month, I was called in to the office and was told that "I had tampered with the program because it had suddenly stopped working." I let them know that someone had to maintain it. I was ordered to teach someone how to do that job and I told them "after you pay me for the program rights". They wouldn't budge and I was told to return to work.
When I had a week left, I strolled around the factory floor for a while and noticed that no stations were running my program anymore. I asked some operators why that was and they told me that "it just stopped working, now we need to fill out forms every time the machine stops manually." I shrugged and told them to thank the factory chief.
I left after that week, got a phone call about a month after I left where they begged me to sell them the rights and teach someone how to maintain it.
I never sold them that program, instead I sold an improved version to another factory nearby, where I am now employed.
Edit: I see some are saying that I am in the wrong based on US law, just editing here to let you know that this did not take place in the US. I made the program during my spare time at home on my own computer. After introducing the program to the former factory chief, I was allowed to try it out on one machine and test it. The maintenance was done on my office computer. After a few months I was allowed to roll it out for the entire factory. It wasn't done overnight, lots of debugging to do. I have not heard anything from the company for nearly a year so it would be weird for them to suddenly come after me now. Just wanted to make that clear.
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