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Today in Tech: Apple Goes Green in China, Google Steals Your Wi-Fi


Apple will be auditing its suppliers to reduce pollution in China, and Google gets a slap on the wrist in a wiretapping case.

Apple (AAPL) will perform a joint environmental audit of its factory in China. Hot on the heels of the Fair Labor Association's damning report of working conditions at Foxconn, China's Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs will work with Apple to check up on pollution coming from Apple's suppliers.

The patent battle between Google (GOOG) and Oracle (ORCL) is heating up. The trial is expected to last about eight weeks. Jury selection began today. Oracle is claiming that Google's blatant use of Java APIs in the Android mobile operating system infringes on Oracle's intellectual property. Oracle has owned the Java programming language since it acquired Sun Microsystems, which initially developed Java in the '90s. Google claims that programming languages cannot be copyrighted. What is at stake here is whether languages can be counted as property, and the implications for the tech industry can't be underestimated.

The Wall Street Journal spoke with David Pratt, president of patent analysis firm M-Cam Inc, who stressed that "several technology giants including Microsoft (MSFT) and International Business Machines (IBM) are likely taking a keen interest in the trial. That is because those companies have patents similar to those being asserted by Oracle, and therefore are likely interested in how much value Oracle can wring from them in court."

Oracle filed the suit in 2010, originally seeking over $6 billion in damages. Some patent claims were deleted from the suit and Oracle is now claiming about $1 billion.

Google also had a date in court with the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC fined Google a nominal $25,000 for obstructing justice in a wiretapping case. The Street View cars that roam the world, photographing practically every street, were gathering more sensitive data than just the bizarre things people do in public. The cars secretly gathered data -- sometimes entire emails -- from unprotected wireless Internet connections that they passed by. The engineer responsible refused to testify.

A few tech earnings announcements are on deck for tomorrow.

Intel (INTC) is expected to report moderately weaker sales for the first quarter. Intel is banking on the adoption of netbooks, its answer to explosion of the mobile tablet and smartphone market. Netbooks are garnering little interest, as prices for the slim laptops are still high. The soon-to-be-released Windows 8 from Microsoft could boost sales later in the year. Wall Street expects Intel to earn $0.50 per share, down from $0.68 per share in the last quarter.

IBM will also report. Analysts expect Big Blue's profit to drop from $4.71 to $2.63 per share.

Tired of relying on big-shot Wall Street analysts for earnings predictions? Think you can do a better job? Estimize, started by StockTwits' Leigh Drogen, is aiming to make the business of stock analysis more social. Members can submit their guesses to Estimize and track their own accuracy. Stock analysts can barely do their job if they have a negative view of a stock, and very rarely go right ahead and post sell ratings. Crowd-sourced earnings estimates are already more accurate than paid analysts. Right now, Estimize is challenging its members with prizes of up to $10,000 for the best indie analysts that contribute.

Samsung (SSNLF) will unveil its newest Galaxy handset in London on May 3. Samsung is a South Korean company. Want to see a South Korean robot prison warden? Cool, isn't it?

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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