In Japan, confidential information is protectable irrespective of whether the information is technical or commercial, subject to certain conditions. Specifically, the Unfair Competition Prevention Act (UCPA) protects “trade secret,” which is defined as technical or business information that is: 1) kept secret, 2) useful for business activities, such as manufacturing or marketing methods, and 3) not publicly known. (Art. 2(6) of the UCPA). Know-how may fall under this definition.
Although any information not falling within the definition of “trade secret” cannot be protected under the UCPA, if the parties agree in a contract to protect such information as confidential, such information may still be contractually protected between the parties under the Civil Code or other contractual laws. (cf. “Management Guidelines for Trade Secrets” January 30, 2003 [Last update: January 23, 2019] Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry).