I completed an internship at a company. During the internship I worked on a generic and publically well-known problem statement and delivered its solution to the company.
After the internship, I wrote a research paper under the guidance of my college professor on a similar problem statement (a kind of subset of the problem statement) with a very different solution as compared to the solution delivered during the internship. The paper was accepted at an A+ international conference. When the company got to know regarding the paper, they demanded an acknowledgment towards them in the paper.
But I feel that the only role of the company was to give me the problem statement. The paper was made possible only because of me and my professor's hard work. And the solution developed by me during the internship was also due to my skill and hard work.
So, how legitimate is the demand of an acknowledgment by the company, should anyone demand such acknowledgment in someone's work? Am I obliged to acknowledge the company in my paper? As an ethical practice I can show gratitude towards the company by mentioning in the paper that "the company gave me an opportunity to work on the statement etc". But it should be my decision that I want to or not?
What are the consequences if I don't acknowledge the company.