Novell has asked a court to dismiss for a second time a slander case against it by Unix crusader SCO.

Two months after a Utah judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit, Novell has argued again that it should be spiked because it is involved in a legitimate dispute with SCO and so cannot be slandering SCO by arguing its case. "SCO cannot show that Novell acted with malice," the most recent court filing reads.

The case concerns, of course, SCO's perpetual insistence that it owns part of the Linux open-source OS. The struggling Unix vendor wants to take a royalty on every unit of Linux sold but in front of it lies a dozen hurdles and some of the biggest computer companies in the world.

Both Novell and SCO have claimed copyright to the Unix System V source code that is at the centre of the argument. Novell sold its Unix business in the mid-90s and it was eventually bought by SCO. SCO says the copyright came with it - and set out to then prove it was included in Linux. However, Novell disputed that SCO even owned the copyright, sparking SCO head Darl McBride to do what he does best - fire off a lawsuit.

SCO claimed Novell had slandered it by disputing ownership. It had engaged in a bad faith effort to block SCO's ability to enforce its copyrights, it argued. But in a June ruling on a separate motion, the judge in the case indicated that a 1996 contract amendment made it unclear whether SCO or Novell now owns the Unix copyright.

SCO immediately jumped on this with Mc-Always-The-Bridesmaid-Never-The-Bride ranting: "Today we slammed the door shut on this and threw away the key once and for all." Novell had "eggs all over its face", he said, even though a single egg has always sufficed in the English idiom.

Novell however has cited this ruling as proof that there is a legitimate copyright dispute. The case is expected to continue ad nauseam.