PURCHASE, New York: Chinese personal-computer maker Lenovo Group this week announced it is to emulate the Western practice of sports sponsorship with a multiyear deal with America's National Basketball Association.

Already, the People's Republic of China has little to learn about commerce or technology from the running-dog hyenas of the capitalist Occident. Now add marketing techniques to that list.

The deal sees Lenovo replacing Dell Computer as the 'Official PC Partner of the NBA', conferring on the Chinese company marketing rights in the USA and China. Lips are zipped on both sides as to the financial terms.

Little known beyond the boundaries of China until last year, Lenovo zoomed into global consciousness after its $1.25 billion (€996.5m; £668.1m) acquisition of IBM's personal computer division to become the world's third largest PC manufacturer after Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

It has just four years to go before expiry of the right to badge its products with the magic initials. And from the outset, it has been forbidden to use the IBM name for marketing purposes. So the Beijing-controlled company is eager to spread its own branding across the world.

Admits Lenovo cmo Deepak Advani: "The IBM brand is a double-edged sword for us. It gives customers a sense of comfort and safety and provides some instant credibility. But the longer we hold on to a well-established brand like IBM, the more difficult it becomes for us to be known as Lenovo."

In line with its new brand strategy Lenovo will sponsor the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. And likely much else as well.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff