Not wanting to push the rules of the forum charter, I would pose a hypothetical question:
Let's say a person is the registrant of a fairly generic but live federal trademark and has operated a business in a specific market under that name for a few years. I understand this person may have no legal standing to enforce the transfer of a domain that was registered prior to the mark, but what if that domain enters pending delete status and were about to be registered by a 3rd party?
Under ICANN rules, is the registrar obliged to transfer the dropped domain to the trademark holder? Or, can the 3rd party register and use the domain to compete in the same market? Hmm.
Thank you all for the replies, very helpful and makes a lot of sense.
I'm particularly interested in the responses regarding 3rd party registration. It sounds to me like the value of the domain to any hypothetical 3rd party would be potentially affected by how they intend to leverage it, the ability of the trademark holder to enforce their rights and the 3rd party's ability to legally defend against any action.
In that case, it would be wise to research trademarks before investing heavily in a domain. Maybe that's common sense, but I wonder how many folk actually do that. Hmm.
Would the hypothetical trademark holder be wise to contact the registrar to put them (and any potential bidders) on notice, or do any arising disputes need to be resolved by filing a UDRP post-auction?