I want to use Minesweeper for a part of my game and I want to know if it's legal or not.


3 Answers 3


The answer depends on what you mean by "using minesweeper" and possibly what legal issue you're concerned about. If you're literally taking the code from Minesweeper and using it in your game, then that's probably a copyright violation (the original game probably isn't in the public domain, and it would be difficult to make a fair use claim). If you're merely using game mechanics that are equivalent, or close to it, to Minesweeper, that's not illegal.

The principle laid down in Baker v. Selden was later codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, which says clearly: “In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.”6 Thus, the idea-expression dichotomy that is fundamental to copyright law can be traced back to Baker v. Selden.

Therefore, the systems or processes that make up the core of a game—generally referred to as the “game mechanics”—are not subject to copyright, even though the written rules, game board, card artwork, and other elements—often referred to as the “theme” of the game—may be.


So the idea is not protected, but the expression is. That means that if you copy the artwork, etc., that can be a violation.

There may be patent issues, however, and the actual name "Minesweeper" is likely trademarked, so you should avoid referring to with that name.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Patents are only good for 20 years, so as long as you work off the Windows 98 version of Minesweeper, you're fine. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Aug 1, 2021 at 1:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's also worth noting that the Tetris Corporation has successfully sued on absurd "look and feel" grounds, so it's very possible that a Minesweeper clone could be sued on similar grounds if it was close enough (although, in practice, I don't see it happening). \$\endgroup\$ Aug 1, 2021 at 10:56

The answer depends on whether you are talking about the game mechanic (a grid where selecting the wrong square means you die, selecting other squares shows you how man neighbouring squares are like this) or the artwork / look and feel of a specific implementation of a game.

  • Game mechanics can’t be copyrighted, but may be patented (I’m not aware of anything covering minesweeper).
  • Artwork, names etc can and are copyrightable.

See this question for some good information.

And as always, if you want proper legal advice, ask a lawyer not me 😊

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Also minesweeper is something like a hundred years old (it started as a newspaper puzzle) so ... \$\endgroup\$
    – Joshua
    Jul 31, 2021 at 22:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ really? I thought it's started with the Windows series. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arian_ki
    Jul 31, 2021 at 22:39

I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. These are just my personal observations of the past. I accept no legal responsibility for any damages to you whatsoever.

Many companies tried to sue other developers in the past for making a game with similar mechanics. Majority of those failed, and it will likely stay that way. Trying to claim game mechanics are intellectual property is like trying to claim chord progressions of a song are intellectual property. It just doesn't make sense.

Unless you make a literal clone of the original minesweeper (read: stealing game assets), then I would say you are fine.

I would suggest asking this question on law.se for actual legal advice. Most of us here are game developers, not lawyers. We can only talk about personal experiences and those usually vary from person to person.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ In the music industry, unfortunately, and as you may already been aware, there have been some recent high-profile copyright cases that have strayed closer and closer to being chord-progression-level infringement claims. \$\endgroup\$
    – user45266
    Aug 1, 2021 at 3:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .