Eric Schmidt wouldn’t be drawn into an argument about whether Google stole its Android smartphone technology from Apple as the late Steve Jobs charges in a biography published shortly after his death.

In South Korea, the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) chairman defended his company as a great innovator. He also said that its Android software would remain free.

When asked about Jobs and the charges, Schmidt said he is still “very sad and recovering from the sense of loss” from Jobs’ death last month and does not think it’s right to comment on Jobs’ words in Walter Issacson’s biography.

The biography was released after Jobs’ death. In it, Jobs argues that Google Inc. stole from Apple’s iPhone to build many of the features in Google’s Android software for rival phones. (Read more details here.)

“I decided not to comment on comments that are written in the book after his death. I don’t think it’s right,” Schmidt said, describing Jobs as a “fantastic human being” who he “dearly” misses.

Jobs died Oct. 5, aged 56, after a battle with cancer. Schmidt served on the Apple Inc. board from 2006 to 2009 but quit as Google and Apple went head-to-head in smartphones – Apple with its iPhone and Google with its Android software.

“Most people would agree that Google is a great innovator, and I would also point out that the Android efforts started before the iPhone efforts. And that’s all I have to say,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt has been meeting with senior government and business officials, including South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Monday, during his three-day trip here.

Since 2009, Google has banned users from South Korea from posting videos on YouTube in protest of Seoul’s policy mandating the use of real names for sign-ups on websites. The South Korean government stands by that policy, saying it improves accountability.

Because of Google’s ban, many South Korean users fake their nationalities on YouTube to upload videos. They are not blocked from viewing video, even if they are registered as users from South Korea.

“I think that the next thing for you all as a country to think about is more than hardware and infrastructure, but really about openness,” Schmidt said.

The former Google CEO also said Google will keep the Android software free for mobile-phone makers even after completing a planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

The deal to buy Motorola Mobility won’t “violate the openness of Android,” and the company will be run independently, Schmidt said.

Google in August agreed to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in its largest acquisition. The deal is aimed at helping Google expand in the phone market in a rivalry with Apple. The purchase will also bring more than 17,000 patents Google can use to protect the Android software platform.

(The AP and Bloomberg contributed to this report.)

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