Well, the moral of this story is that you should “have a lawyer on retainer.” Even if you are “just a lowly programmer,” if you are in business, you will be asked to sign things, and you need to have your attorney look over everything that you are being asked to sign, before you actually do. You might be God’s own gift to [Perl] programming, but you know nothing about the law ... and you are always, always dealing with others who do. The contracts that you issue to others, should also be written by your attorney.
Yeah, s/he will charge you several hundred bucks for expertise. So do you. (They’re all deductible business expenses, anyway.)
And: there is always “time to smoke it over,” even though “time is of the essence.” If someone hands you a piece of paper and insists that “it must be signed today” ... don’t. Take it home, read it over, and then, “call Tom, and tell him to start the clock again.”
You might be in business for years and “nothing happens.” But “all of those blissful occurrences, goody for you,” are not why you need a lawyer. The day will come . . .