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The Digital Standards Organization defines free and open standard as follows:

  • A free and open standard is immune to vendor capture at all stages in its life-cycle. Immunity from vendor capture makes it possible to freely use, improve upon, trust, and extend a standard over time.
  • The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organization, and its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties.
  • The standard has been published and the standard specification document is available freely. It must be permissible to all to copy, distribute, and use it freely.
  • The patents possibly present on (parts of) the standard are made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis.
  • There are no constraints on the re-use of the standard.

The economic outcome of a free and open standard, which can be measured, is that it enables perfect competition between suppliers of products based on the standard.