"Most ICOs being done today aren't intended to be securities offerings, as they don't offer equity or ownership in the underlying company the way traditional angel or venture investments do. Rather, a large majority of ICOs are intended as “utility tokens" which allow buyers of the token to access and pay for usage of a blockchain-based software service.
One example of a utility token in use today is the Ether token, as it relates to the Ethereum computing platform. Ethereum is the blockchain-based platform where the large majority of the current ICO’s have been developed. When using the Ethereum network, there are costs associated with the processing of blockchain-based transactions. These costs are paid in the form of the tokens used on Ethereum, called Ether. These transaction fees paid in Ether are called "gas" in the Ethereum network.
In this way, the Ether token provides access to, and payment for, the computing and transactional functions of Ethereum. But beyond its transactional usage, Ether is also a cryptocurrency that is bought, sold, and traded on the open markets.
And while some tokens may not be considered a securities offering (utility tokens), the recent SEC release put out in July warned investors about the potential for fraud with ICOs as unregulated sales. Specifically, the release outlined details of the SEC investigation into the DAO which raised over $150M in its own ICO, and reiterated its ongoing concerns that some ICOs may constitute securities offerings, like the DAO, while not being treated as such." (https://www.forbes.com/sites/chancebarnett/2017/09/23/inside-the-meteoric-rise-of-icos/#2e010b515670)