Patents can be seen as a sign of progress, as every new invention must improve over an old one in a way that’s truly new and not obvious. Devices for communicating with the spirit world are no exception.
Movies featuring a “spirit board”—more commonly known by the registered trademark Ouija—haven’t, though, been on as clear an improvement trajectory.
As far as intellectual property goes, the first patent on the Ouija parlor game—or tool, depending on your inclination—dates back to the late 19th century. The inventors received U.S. Patent No. 446,054 in 1891 only after using the board to guess the name of the patent examiner, in order to demonstrate its usefulness, according to an account by historian Robert Murch.
Since then, there have been many patents claiming improvements on the original. U.S. Patent No. 1,400,791, granted in 1921, describes a board with an improved layout and design that allows the pointer to travel along a rail.
Another patent, granted in 1940, describes a two-sided game with letters that light up on a vertical side while the pointer moves along a horizontal surface.
And the march of progress continues. Another patent was just granted in October 2015 for a system that senses “localized changes in an electromagnetic field” to propel the pointer.
But unlike Ouija inventions, movies featuring Ouija boards, either prominently or in just a scene or two, don't seem to have improved over time, if viewer ratings are to be trusted.
Classics like 1944’s “The Uninvited” and 1973’s The Exorcist,” for instance, score well on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), with weighted average ratings of 7.4 and 8 out of 10, respectively. Compare those to the “Witchboard” movie series, where the first installment (1986) earned a score of 5.7, the second (1993), 4.9 and the third (1995), 4.1.
Some more recent Ouija-related movies have done even worse. 2011’s “The Ouija Experiment” scored a 3.4, and 2015’s The Ouija Exorcism came in at just 2.1.
But there is hope for fans of the “communing with spirits through a board is a really bad idea” movie genre. This year's “Ouija: Origin of Evil” earned a respectable 6.9/10. Ouija improvements may not be for patents alone.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)