[Edit: The initial headline for the story implied Insomniac was sued for using "I'm a Little Tea Pot" in-game, but there was no explicit mention of a lawsuit during the panel]
Ratchet & Clank is fun! Nursery rhymes are fun! You know what's not fun? Getting a talking-to from lawyers for using a nursery rhyme in a Ratchet & Clank game. Unfortunately, that's what happened to Insomniac when it wrote "I'm a Little Teapot" into one of Ratchet & Clank's puzzles, only to discover the hard way that the song has a copyright.
There's a set of doors in Ratchet & Clank 3: Quest for Booty on the PlayStation 3 that won't open until you sing at them. "I thought it'd be fun if the doors opened by singing 'I'm a Little Teapot,' it was something silly,'" writer T.J. Fixman said at the "15 Years of 'Ratchet & Clank': A Lombax Story" panel at GDC 2018. "But turns out someone owns the rights to 'I'm a Little Teapot,' and that person has lawyers who got involved. So that became 'Teapot-gate.'"
Fixman's lesson is, "Don't assume nursery rhymes are public domain."
Additional controversies chased Fixman later, though unlike Teapot-gate, they weren't born of ignorance. He knew exactly what he was doing when he suggested "4Play" and "Multiple Organisms" as subtitles for Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One on the PlayStation 3.
Unsurprisingly, the lewd names were rejected. Fixman admits it was the fastest 'No' he ever got.
[With reporting by Matt Kim]