One of the questions I am most frequently asked by clients thinking about starting their own companies and businesses: When can I apply for my trademark? In the U.S. Federal trademark system, you can file two different types of applications. One is the Actual Use Application, also known as the 1(a) application, which is where you have already been using your trademark and you have had a bona fide business transaction. This means you just have to fill out the application and go through the process, which takes about eight months. Part of the application process is to submit the specimen that has actually been used. In most of the state systems that have trademark registries, this is the only time that you can apply for a trademark registration, when you are actually using it to conduct business.