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Google vows support to Android licensees in patent infringement suits

Google has promised continued support to Android handset makers embroiled in ongoing patent disputes, and looks to reassure alliances with Asian vendors as the mobile OS space become increasingly competitive.

At the end of a three-city tour of Asia on Wednesday, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt met with major Android vendors, saying that his company would support them as worldwide patent disputes against Apple continue, reports Reuters.

"We tell our partners, including the ones here in Taiwan, we will support them. For example we have been supporting HTC in its dispute with Apple because we think that the Apple thing is not correct," Schmidt said.

The Google executive said that his company is sharing information, industry expertise and access to Google's patents for licensing and legal purposes. Korea's Samsung and Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC are both involved in ongoing patent disputes surrounding Android, which late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs thought of as a "stolen product."

The iPhone maker has been aggressive in seeking injunctions for devices they believe infringe on their patents. Recently Apple was awarded the touchscreen slide-to-unlock gesture patent, which Taiwanese officials claim will hurt the smartphone market.

In addition to offering support to embattled Android licensees, Schmidt met with Samsung, the largest maker of Android handsets in the world, and LG Electronics. The visit comes as Asian handset makers prepare to release new phones running on Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, looking to diversify their Android-heavy product portfolios.

The move was seen by many as reassuring Google's alliances with handset makers in light of its recent Motorola Mobility Holdings acquisition.

The $12.5 billion purchase has raised concerns that the internet giant may become a bigger player in the mobile space, perhaps rivaling current Android licensees. Although the company already has the Google-branded Nexus smartphone line, it has relied on outsourcing the handset's hardware, the most recent going to Samsung with the Google Galaxy Nexus.

Eric Schmidt

Schmidt also visited Beijing, possibly seeking reconciliation over past hacking and censorship disputes with China. Google closed its Chinese service last year due to censorship pressure from the region's government, and subsequently routing all traffic through Hong Kong. The company also claimed that China may have been responsible for an attack on its Gmail service in June, illiciting a backlash from Beijing.

Google is "still having a growing and profitable business in China," said Schmidt. He went on to say that the company "wanted to serve China's citizens within the limits the government allowed."