Google Patents Snippets
Since there isn’t an official definition of what constitutes a snippet, Google engineers have patented the way the search engine builds snippets for its results.
During the ongoing court battle between Google and its book scanning author and publisher foes, the idea of the snippet has been bounced around as people tried to define it. So far the meaning of a snippet has been whatever Google or any other search site says it is.
Bill Slawski at SEO by the Sea writes that Google has received a patent on snippets. First filed in 2004, the patent called “methods and systems for generating textual information,” the patent refers to snippets as a summary based on other summaries of a document, taken from that document.
In part, anyway.