Common specifications established to ensure interoperability of technology. For example, early and now largely ubiquitous standards were established for light bulbs and light-bulb sockets, or railway gauges. Technical standards fall into two categories:
- multilateral standards established by committees or groups drawn from across an industry (often described as technical experts groups), usually under the auspices of an organization such as ETSI or the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE); or
- unilateral or de facto standards (the best known of which include DOS and Windows), which develop because market externalities favor companies making their products compatible with those of major product manufacturers in a given industry sector. Standards and standard setting can raise significant antitrust and competition law issues. See Contributory Infringement.