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Google's Promises Android Will Remain Free to Partners

While touring South Korea on Tuesday, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told reporters that, despite Microsoft's allegations and legal threats, the search engine giant will continue to offer the Android operating system free to handset manufacturing partners. He even went so far as to criticize Microsoft's litigation against manufacturers who are using Google's mobile OS.

"Microsoft is not telling the truth on this issue, and they are using tactics to scare people because they are scared of the success of Android," Schmidt said in a news conference when asked to comment about Samsung caving in and paying royalties to Microsoft.

The comment follows a statement made by Google patent lawyer Tim Porter who claims that Microsoft uses its portfolio of patents when its products stop succeeding and the company gets marginalized... which is what's going on with Android. "They use the large patent portfolio they've built up to get revenue from the success of other companies' products," Porter said, also pointing out that Microsoft used a similar tactic with Linux.

Tuesday Schmidt told reporters that Google's pending purchase of Motorola Mobility Holdings won't impact relations with mobile handset partners. Google agreed to purchase the company back in August for $12.5 billion -- its largest acquisition thus far -- in hopes to expand its presence in the mobile market and take on Apple. The purchase will also open the doors to more than 17,000 patents which Google can use to help protect the Android platform.

But one of the biggest fears floating around in the mobile industry is that Motorola will get special treatment once it becomes officially integrated into the search engine giant. Schmidt claims that won't be the case. "In general, with all of our partners, we told them that the Motorola deal will close and we will run it sufficiently and independently, that it will not violate the openness of Android...we're not going to change in any material way the way we operate," Schmidt said.

Although Google doesn't generate revenue by supplying partners with the Android platform, it does generate an income by pushing ads to Android-enabled devices: around $2.5 billion per year, in fact, which is expected to double within the next 12 months. Microsoft is rumored to be pulling in $3 to $6 per Android device sold thanks to its portfolio of "dubious" patents.

"Android has a patent fee," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said. "It’s not like Android’s free. You do have to license patents."