Google CEO Eric Schmidt has told reporters that giving up his position on Apple's board of directors "hasn't crossed my mind", following news of an antitrust investigation into Schmidt's dual directorships.

In the States, the Federal Trade Commission has started an inquiry into whether the close ties between the boards of Apple and Google reduces competition under an "interlocking directorates" clause. As well as Schmidt, Arthur Levinson is a director for both companies.

The FTC considers the two companies are increasingly competing in similar markets, with crossovers in the mobile phone market coming from the iPhone and Google's Android OS and with Google's Chrome browser as a rival to Apple's Safari.

Schmidt says he leaves the Apple boardroom whenever the discussion has anything to do with the iPhone, telling reporters, "If there are issues on competitiveness, I recuse myself".

"From my perspective I don't think Google sees Apple as a primary competitor", said Schmidt, while Google's legal team said "The law is clear that there is a safe harbour under the Clayton Act for companies that don't have overlapping revenue in different areas, and we're comfortable with that position".