Google is sporting a special logo to celebrate the birthday of famed magician and escape artist Harry Houdini. The doodle is visible on the main search site as well as on many of its localized versions. While there's nothing special about this doodle, it looks rather nice, resembling a vintage poster, it spells out the Google name along with a drawing of Houdini.
Harry Houdini is one of the most celebrated escape artists of all time and has created some of the most well known stunts. Among his signature acts were the Milk Can Escape and the Chinese Water Torture Cell.
Google regularly features doodles to mark special events or people. Be them scientists, artists or popular heroes, Google has a wide variety each year.
Recently, Google has started using more elaborate doodles, often interactive. For Jule Verne's birthday, it featured a CSS-based doodle which enabled users to 'dive' under the sea
and explore its wonders, inspired by Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
For the Harry Houdini doodle, Google kept it simple using only a custom image.
Interestingly enough, Google has very recently received a patent for doodles, more exactly, for a system that changes a company's logo on special occasions.
It took the US Patent and Trademark Office almost 11 years to approve the patent which is credited to Sergey Brin, one of Google's founders. The patent isn't incredibly broad but it is rather vague.
The patent describes "a method for attracting users to a web page." This includes "instructions for creating a special event logo by modifying a standard company logo for a special event," "instructions for associating a link or search results with the special event logo," "instructions for uploading the special event logo to the web page" and a few other provisions.
Since Google started doing doodles, and perhaps even before, plenty of others have been placing their own customized logos for various occasions. While Google has never used its patents aggressively, only for defensive purposes, the simple fact that it received a patent for such a system shows, once again, just how broken the patent system in the US and around the world is.